I not sure how people would feel about this topic, but I thought that it would be an interesting one to bring up here. What if you were the doctor? What if this was your wife, your daughter, or in the case of the T-Vixens on here, yourself? Thoughts?
[i]Rape victim denied morning-after pill
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
BY TOM BOWMAN AND DIANA FISHLOCK
Of The Patriot-News
LEBANON - A Good Samaritan Hospital emergency room doctor refused to give a rape victim a morning-after pill because he said it was against his Mennonite religion.
Rebuffed by the doctor, the woman called her gynecologist, who wrote the prescription. Her local pharmacy told her it was out of the drug and referred her to a sister store in Reading.
The former medical director of the hospital said he sees nothing strange about asking a woman from eastern Lebanon County to drive to Reading for a drug.
“People drive to Reading to buy jeans. Even if that were the case, that you had to drive to Reading to get this [prescription], to me that does not rise to a compulsion that you have to pass laws that [doctors] have to do something,” Dr. Joe Kearns said.
Emergency contraception, often called the morning-after pill, gives a high dosage of birth-control medicine that can prevent pregnancy.
It’s a pill that Dr. Martin Gish, the physician who treated the rape victim, said he has prescribed.
“This is an issue I’ve struggled with for years,” Gish said. “My current feeling is life begins at conception, and I feel that anything that interferes with that” causes an abortion.
“The dilemma I have is the whole rape issue: Which side are you more concerned with? Are you more concerned about the mother or the life that was possibly created? That’s my dilemma,” he said. “I personally don’t have this thing worked out. I’m not sure how my faith can line up with my practice at times of what I’m asked to do.”
The state backs up his refusal.
Hospitals are not required to prescribe emergency contraception pills, and the state does not keep statistics on how many do, said Richard McGarvey, spokesman for the state Health Department.
“There is a law that says if a hospital chooses not to provide a treatment for religious reasons, they can do that,” McGarvey said.
Kearns said a doctor has rights, too.
“The question is, if you are a physician, do you have to provide services to patients that you think are heinous? And the answer is in this country [is] no, you don’t,” Kearns said.
Jenny Murphy-Shifflet, executive director of the Sexual Assault Resource and Counseling Center of Lebanon County, has her focus on the victims.
She said she has been trying for a year to get Good Samaritan Hospital to require its doctors to write prescriptions for emergency contraceptives.
“No victim should have to run around town after an assault looking for emergency contraceptives,” she said.
Most midstate hospitals provide emergency contraception to rape victims, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.
“We don’t treat it any different than any other legal prescription medication,” said Dr. John Repke, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
But Kearns said Good Samaritan will not formulate a policy for or against prescribing morning-after pills for the same reason it won’t perform abortions.
“I’ll tell you why we don’t do abortions. Because there’d be such a hullabaloo and disruption in this very-Mennonite and very-fundamentalist community that there would be so much downside to this in terms of people not wanting to come to this hospital, even though it’s their local hospital,” Kearns said. “It’s just not worth doing it.”
A spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape said that if an attending physician is not comfortable dispensing the medication, he or she could call in someone else.
“Obviously, in incidents like this, we want all victims to have access to comprehensive health care after an emergency,” Danielle Sunday said.
A bill proposed in the state House and Senate, known as the Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies Act, would ensure comprehensive medical care, including emergency contraception, for all rape victims, PCAR said.
The woman who reported the rape was emotionally unable to speak to a reporter yesterday, her father said.
Richland police Chief Dennis Morgan said he is investigating her rape, the first in the borough in 27 years.
The woman’s father said she was lying on the grass in her front yard in Richland about 2 a.m. when a man stopped to ask directions. She told her father that the man punched her, knocking her unconscious, then raped her while wearing a condom.
The victim waited until later that day to tell her mother about the rape. The mother and daughter drove to Good Samaritan Hospital for treatment but did not ask Gish for the morning-after drug until Saturday, after talking with family members.[/i]