247416 Access Denied: Catholic Healthcare Restrictions on Reproductive Health Services in the United States

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 5:10 PM

Sara Hutchinson , Domestic Program, Catholics for Choice, Washington, DC
Unlike their secular counterparts, healthcare services available in Catholic healthcare institutions are restricted by guidelines that are separate from established medical norms. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops's Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Services (the Directives) govern Catholic-owned or affiliated institutions, including hospitals and HMOs. Using polling data, analyses of canon law and the Directives, anecdotal evidence and statistics, this presentation will: Analyze the ways in which Catholic institutions in the United States severely limit access to reproductive health services in communities most in need of care. Demonstrate the ways in which the Directives run contrary to the beliefs and needs of Catholics throughout the United States.

Presentation to will summarize extensive analysis of polling data, statistical evidence, canon law, the Directives, anecdotal evidence, and journal articles along with synthesizing contents of several reports and informed by factsheets and publications.

The sheer size of Catholic healthcare in the US means that the Directives have a far-reaching, devastating effect on reproductive healthcare in this country. For poor people or those in rural areas, the effect of Catholic hospitals' limitations on reproductive health services is felt even more acutely. The majority of Catholics have rejected the stance outlined in Directives and instead support access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare and need their hospitals to provide these services.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Diversity and culture
Ethics, professional and legal requirements
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Demonstrate the ways in which Catholic institutions in the United States severely limit access to reproductive health services in communities most in need of care. Identify the ways in which the Directives run contrary to the beliefs and needs of Catholics throughout the United States.

Keywords: Access and Services, Reproductive Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I direct the domestic policy program at Catholics for Choice, where we have a long-history of analysis and investigation of issues related to Catholic healthcare.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.