Oklahoma Doctor Refuses to Provide Emergency Contraceptive to Rape Victim on Basis of Religious Conscience

Doctors across the nation are now free to refuse medical care to women on the basis of their own personal beliefs. What follows is a particularly egregious application of these “religious conscience” laws, and underscores why women nationwide are standing up and fighting back:

An Oklahoma mother brought her daughter to a local hospital after she was raped only to be turned away and refused help by a doctor, purportedly because the hospital lacked the staff to properly process the victim’s claims and injuries. Welcome to the reality of processing sexual assault crimes in GOP-land.

The woman and her daughter were reportedly turned away because the hospital did not have any nurses who conduct rape exams on staff. Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) are specially trained professionals who deal only with the delicate process of conducting rape exams. The SANE program is coordinated through the YWCA and is a collaboration with local law enforcement, the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office and public health officials. The collaborative effort is designed to ensure evidence is properly collected and stored without re-traumatizing the victim and ensuring the most effective prosecution of the perpetrator possible.

~snip~

In this case the doctor involved refused to conduct any exam, nor would he dispense any emergency contraception. The hospital issued a statement grounding those decisions in the need to coordinate through the SANE program. It could also be that this doctor had a moral objection to treating rape victims and dispensing emergency contraception, and thanks to abusive expanses of the conscience-clause by the right, simply refused to deal with her. Either way it’s a lose-lose for rape victims who now face the prospect of looking for treatment after an assault only to be turned away because of a lack of resources or because of religious objections.

The young woman asked the doctor whether or not emergency contraceptives were available and whether the doctor was simply refusing to provide them. The nurse told her “I will not give you emergency contraceptives because it goes against my belief.” The doctor refused to help her, even though she had just been raped, and refused to find another doctor to help her. 

[read the rest at TRS-ABLC]

47 replies
  1. 1
    scav says:

    Morally complicit springs to mind, as does Accessory after the fact.

  2. 2
    Lex says:

    Hey, moron, what part of “first, do no harm” did you not understand? I hope they revoke this guy’s license, but they probably won’t. And forget holding him criminally accountable as an accessory or for obstruction of a criminal investigation, too.

  3. 3
    PIGL says:

    but there’s no war on women…no sirree. Those involved should be barred from practice…and then fed to the fire ants.

  4. 4
    Holden Pattern says:

    Ah, Gilead, glorious Gilead. How we’ve anticipated your arrival!

  5. 5
    West of the Cascades says:

    I agree the doctor’s license should be revoked, but reading how heartlessly he reacted to a woman who must have been in shock and needed particularly timely care just makes me wish I could beat him with a crowbar.

    I can’t tell from the article, but did the young woman eventually get the care she needed at another facility? I hope so, but I thought the law prevented doctors from withholding treatment (don’t we always hear that health insurance isn’t necessary because “they can always go to the emergency room”? guess that doesn’t apply if one has been raped).

  6. 6
    Walker says:

    The young woman asked the doctor whether or not emergency contraceptives were available and whether the doctor was simply refusing to provide them. The nurse told her “I will not give you emergency contraceptives because it goes against my belief.”

    I am not saying this did not go down this way. However, I have clicked three levels deep on those links and cannot find where it says that happened.

  7. 7
    James E. Powell says:

    Apart from the 27%ers, the ones who cheered “Let him die!” at the Republican debates, is there anyone out there who is not repulsed by this story? Is Joe Lieberman still out there saying “take a cab?” Does Planned Parenthood still think it was a good idea to endorse him?

  8. 8
    Angela says:

    @Walker: I clicked three levels down too and the source story reads quite differently than what is described here.

    And yes, she did finally receive care. This ER where she was refused treatment referred her to the ER where nurses trained in examining rape victims where working.

    I would say there is no question, though, that the metro hospitals are understaffed with those trained to examine rape victims.

  9. 9

    Yes, yes, yes, but your priorities should be DRONES, ALL THE TIME. Haven’t you read all of you “fans” on the Twitter machine?

  10. 10
    freelancer says:

    Fucking Amish Bus-drivers…

  11. 11
    burnspbesq says:

    @Angela:

    “I would say there is no question, though, that the metro hospitals are understaffed with those trained to examine rape victims.”

    That’s beyond dispute. Every hospital that runs an ER should have a female OB/GYN or nurse practitioner who is fully trained up on dealing with victims of sexual assault on scene or on five-minute call 24/7. But that’s a completely separate issue from the supposedly conscientious refusal to counsel about emergency contraception, and ABL is being her usual, deeply dishonest self in trying to conflate the two.

  12. 12
    NA says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Just curious, did you also watch the video? The mother was pretty emphatic in saying that her daughter was told in a judgmental way that she would not receive emergency contraception from that particular hospital.

  13. 13
    MoeLarryAndJesus says:

    Oklahoma is the Afghanistan of America.

  14. 14
    Mike G says:

    Talibaptists suck.

  15. 15
    Mike S. says:

    this is a nice example of how the well meaning left has been co-opted/distorted by the disingenuous right.

    cynical and feigned agreement with one’s political opponents:
    sure, we need specially trained professionals to conduct the exam and collect evidence w/o ‘re-traumatization’. it’s all about the best interests of the presumed victim, amirite?

    actual effect: restrictions, ultimately prohibitive, on who/when/where/how services are rendered such that one political/moral agenda is fulfilled at the expense of the best interests of the presumed victims.

    it’s the very definition of ‘acting in bad faith’, but it works b/c the human race is a wretched, execrable thing. we’re a nation of thoughtless dolts, getting the government that we (in aggregate) ‘deserve’…

    humanity fail

  16. 16
    Sophist says:

    @PIGL:

    Those involved should be barred from practice…

    With actual bars.

  17. 17
    the fugitive uterus says:

    but, but, drones!

  18. 18
    brantl says:

    @NA: Why would burnspesq get anything right that even remotely involved religion? Anyone? Anyone?

  19. 19
    TomG says:

    @Holden Pattern: When I first saw the movie, it upset me so deeply that I told people that I considered it a horror movie. We all were so naive back then, thinking that there was no way that it could possibly happen. Now…..now we have to wake up and try to stop it.

  20. 20
    RedKitten says:

    @burnspbesq: So even though they don’t have CARE nurses, you honestly believe that a nurse and a physician do not possess the ability to hand out EC?

    Come on. They damn well could have given her the EC, CARE nurses or not.

  21. 21
    Unsympathetic says:

    burns:

    ABL isn’t “conflating” anything – Oklahoma passed the law allowing doctors [even those in an ED] to do nothing regarding rape.

    You’re 100% wrong with your assertion that “every ED should” have someone with special training on-call. That simply doesn’t happen – whether the hospital is urban or not. 1,2 ED’s may choose to do that, sure, but in no way is that [or will it be] a common staffing pattern.

    The bottom line is that the ED doctor that night could have performed the same functions but simply didn’t want to.. and now we have demonstrable proof how actual people’s lives are affected by right-wing whackadoodles.

  22. 22
    Paula68154 says:

    The shocking thing is that I’m not shocked.

    I think hospitals should have to publish and display what procedures they will not perform due to religious beliefs.

  23. 23
    jon says:

    I would encourage anyone to figure out a plan to follow if you’re raped. Everyone.

    Ask local hospitals what services are there. What are the local support groups? Talk to the support groups and figure out what police support is like. What about emergency contraception? Have a plan.

    Dialing 911 isn’t the beginning and end of what rape necessitates. Yes, planning for this isn’t what anyone wants to think about.

    My Euphemism works at the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault (SACASA Feel free to donate, or find a similar group in your area.). Here in Tucson, very few people have heard of them. They’re the people who meet with survivors in emergency rooms and advocate for the survivors. If they want to press charges, these advocates both inform the survivor of what is in store for her (a head-to-toe exam that’s much more invasive than the things Republicans do to shame women seeking surgical abortions.) If there’s a decision not to press charges, sometimes that leads to the advocates having to tell the family/boyfriend/mom/whoever that it wouldn’t be helpful to go after the unconvicted rapist/molester. It’s not an enviable job, but I’m so proud of those who do it.

    I can’t emphasize this enough: have a plan. You’ll need help if it happens. Where will you get it? Will it be there?

    And anyone who thinks the Violence Against Women Act is of marginal interest can shove it up their ass.

  24. 24
    Jamey says:

    @MoeLarryAndJesus: Not quite. Afghanistan’s government supports public mass transit.

  25. 25
    kay says:

    @Paula68154:

    I think hospitals should have to publish and display what procedures they will not perform due to religious beliefs.

    I don’t think that’s good enough, without a more honest discussion.

    We have to address the “separate is not equal” issue. If we’re going to be limiting women’s access to care (and we are if we’re allowing an unlimited number of these exceptions) we should admit that, and deal with it. Is this an acceptable trade-off? How much care are we willing to deny or limit? To what extent are we willing to inconvenience or burden women seeking care? When do women’s health care needs trump concerns or compromises made to benefit certain health care providers?

    These are practical questions. They should be asked, and answered. But first we’d have to admit that we ARE limiting access to care.

    It’s like we skipped the first step, and just assumed limiting access was acceptable, and now we’re negotiating how much we’ll burden women. When did that happen? Where did the assumption that women would be taking the full burden of religious exemptions become a given? I don’t remember agreeing to that, or even discussing it.

  26. 26
    Mo says:

    I have a question. How do these “conscience” laws intersect with malpractice insurance? Are doctors required to disclose to their insurers (and the hospital’s insurers) exactly what procedures they will be refusing so that this can be be taken into account when writing the policy?

  27. 27
    Mo says:

    @kay:
    Part of the issue is that people are in denial about what is happening. The other issue is the current regime allows for doctors, et al. to pick and choose when their “conscience” requires them to refuse healthcare to women.

    Would the doctor have done this if a different supervisor had been in charge that shift? If the mother was a friend? A “conscience” clause should be void if you ever break it. Because the doctors are allowed to do this ad hoc, it remains a myth and rumor in the mainstream.

  28. 28
    brantl says:

    What’s it like to be handed your ass, continuously, Burnsy?

  29. 29
    RedKitten says:

    Conscience clauses are fucking evil. Seriously.

    I was taking an afternoon nap when the hemorrhaging started while my toddler napped in his room when I woke up to find blood gushing upward from my body. Though I didn’t know it at the time, I was experiencing a placental abruption, a complication my doctor had told me was a possibility. My husband was at work, so I had to do my best to take care of me and my toddler on my own. I managed to get to the phone and make arrangements for both of my children before going to a Chicago hospital. Everyone knew the pregnancy wasn’t viable, that it couldn’t be viable given the amount of blood I was losing, but it still took hours for anyone at the hospital to do anything. The doctor on call didn’t do abortions. At all. Ever. In fact, no one on call that night did.

  30. 30
    Soonergrunt says:

    @MoeLarryAndJesus: You’ve obviously never been either here, or to Mississippi.
    @Jamey: We have public mass transit here, in both OKC and Tulsa.
    The town where this occurred, Yukon, OK does not.
    And this isn’t an “anti-woman” thing or a religious rights thing so much as an access to services thing in this case.

  31. 31
    kay says:

    @Mo:

    I’m perfectly willing to have a debate, as long as we start with the truth, which is that we’re limiting women’s access to emergency care. That is undeniably true. I don’t know if we’re limiting it a lot or a little, but we’re limiting it.

    What we’re now discussing is to what extent are we willing to burden women to accomodate religious objections. Women are second.

    If people with religious objections were honest enough to admit that, we could have a real, practical debate on women’s access to health care. Until they are willing to admit that, we’ll remain in the abstract world of “religious liberty” and women’s health care will be a secondary concern. I don’t accept the premise. I don’t accept how they’ve framed this debate. I think women’s health care comes FIRST. That’s my perspective, and it’s just as valid as the perspective of those with religious objections.

  32. 32

    […] The “war on women” has been tagged as an intentional ploy by the Right to disable the rights of women that my mother and so many others fought so hard to obtain decades ago. But when many people hear “war on women” they think it’s just some crazy feminist on her soap box again, spewing nonsensical things that apparently don’t matter anyway. My friend and blogger extraordinaire, Lauren‘s mother wrote an Op-Ed in Jacksonville, FL yesterday and some of the comments that followed were heinous. Her Op-Ed was titled: War on Women Shows we Have to be Vigiliant. Our rights are being hacked left and right. Republicans are trying to crawl up my vagina and into my uterus (how’s that for a visual, Romney?). I cringe every time I go to the “women’s rights” tag on Google News to see what new and psycho law is on the table to destroy women’s freedoms. Yesterday, I came across one that made me vomit in my mouth and scream. You cannot tell me the war on women isn’t real and absurd after hearing this story. […]

  33. 33

    The nurse told her “I will not give you emergency contraceptives because it goes against my belief.”

    I just sacrificed a delicious Oats & Chocolate Fiber One bar to the Mighty Volcano God I happen to worship this week to try and get some wisdom on the subject. From the aether, a Great Voice whispered into my ear the following words:

    Fuck you, lady. And Fuck your little “beliefs” even more.

    (My Mighty Volcano God is truly Wise).

  34. 34
    Patricia Kayden says:

    The Bot is closing the gap with women voters, so all is well. Sensible people may have to leave Oklahoma for a less red state.

  35. 35
    Gus diZerega says:

    I will gladly pay higher taxes to cover the moving costs of monsters like these people enabling them to leave the US for another country that fits their beliefs better, perhaps Saudi Arabia.

    If they complain SA does not welcome the demonic version of ‘Christianity’ that they practice, I would vote to expel a seriously red state and pay higher taxes to cover their costs of moving there.

    Just so they leave. They are not fit for civilized company.

  36. 36
    Nemesis says:

    Was the assault victim blah? Prly…

    Bet she was dressed all slutty and shit so the doc said no go with the medical treatments he is compelled to provide. There is a place in hell for this fuckstick.

  37. 37
    debg says:

    @Walker: Go to ABL’s cross-posting, and you’ll see her link to an Oklahoma news show. It turns out that the doctor was female. There was no nurse mentioned in the mom’s account. The mom told the news reporter that the doctor stated her own religious beliefs led her to deny emergency contraception. That hospital’s statement said they performed no exam because they had no SANE nurses available. Mom and daughter went to a second hospital where the daughter did get a rape exam, and “treatment” (unspecified), and advice to report the first doctor.

    ABL, if you could correct some of the inaccuracies in the report you cite, that would be really helpful. I want to pass on word of this incident, but the details have to be right.

  38. 38
    Lihtox says:

    Has someone started a list of doctors who refuse treatment in these cases, or perhaps a certification program for those who vow to never refuse treatment? (Though certification could put doctors in danger from pro-lifers I suppose; perhaps calling out doctors who do refuse would be better.)

  39. 39
    PWL says:

    There’s a special place in Hell for that doctor. And there’s a special place in Hell for any religion that fosters and condones such behavior.

  40. 40
    D. Mason says:

    I find it ironic that if Jesus were real and alive today he would rebuke these people in the strongest terms a legitimate savior could muster.

  41. 41
    IrishGirl says:

    Well, this poor young woman could have also faced a perfectly legal rejection by the Pharmacist and if she lived in AZ, rejection and/or harassment from her therapist. The number of professions who are getting “conscience clauses” seems to be growing and oddly enough (actually not oddly, this is expected) their conscience only seems to apply to issues that affect women.

    I wonder if those conservative doctors, pharmacists and therapists ever stop to ask themselves about all the single men they gave Viagra to without a second thought. How many of those went out and fornicated out of wedlock, making babies they had no intention of acknowledging and supporting? How many of those men were rapists? Probably none. But the victims, they obsess over the victims and their reproductive capabilities. Conservatives and conservative health care professionals have made sure that a victim will not only be more likely to get fucked before she ever arrives at the hospital but at every step after and in between as well.

    These kinds of stories are so infuriating. I swear I feel like going to law school so I can sue the shit out of these assholes.

  42. 42
    delosgatos says:

    @Angela:

    Did you watch the original news report?

    Seems to track pretty closely with what’s reported here.

  43. 43

    Very sick! No repect for women who have been raped. Totally sick not to give her the morning after medication. And extremely cruel. The kid was not even tested for AIDS or damaging VD diseases. So, she’s on her own.

    Don’t M.D.s take a vow of “First do no harm, etc.” This particular M.D. ought to have his license yanked off. Forever and in every state of the Union.

  44. 44
    Gretchen says:

    @burnspbesq:
    Why the f*ck is it dishonest to conflate the unavailability of trained sexual assault practitioners and the availability of emergency contraception to rape victims?

  45. 45
    ABL 2.0 says:

    @burnspbesq:

    But that’s a completely separate issue from the supposedly conscientious refusal to counsel about emergency contraception, and ABL is being her usual, deeply dishonest self in trying to conflate the two.

    another swing and a miss. read the article next time. maybe even watch the video i linked. aren’t you a lawyer? you should know better.

  46. 46
    Sammy says:

    @Walker: So, of course, this did not happen. The young lady who was raped just floated off into lala land while the doctor and nurse paid homnage to the gods of stupidity.

  47. 47
    Sammy says:

    @Walker: So, of course, this did not happen. The young lady who was raped just floated off into lala land while the doctor and nurse paid homnage to the gods of stupidity.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] The “war on women” has been tagged as an intentional ploy by the Right to disable the rights of women that my mother and so many others fought so hard to obtain decades ago. But when many people hear “war on women” they think it’s just some crazy feminist on her soap box again, spewing nonsensical things that apparently don’t matter anyway. My friend and blogger extraordinaire, Lauren‘s mother wrote an Op-Ed in Jacksonville, FL yesterday and some of the comments that followed were heinous. Her Op-Ed was titled: War on Women Shows we Have to be Vigiliant. Our rights are being hacked left and right. Republicans are trying to crawl up my vagina and into my uterus (how’s that for a visual, Romney?). I cringe every time I go to the “women’s rights” tag on Google News to see what new and psycho law is on the table to destroy women’s freedoms. Yesterday, I came across one that made me vomit in my mouth and scream. You cannot tell me the war on women isn’t real and absurd after hearing this story. […]

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