By Claudia Buck
With a toddler and a new baby on the way, Rachel Miller and her husband felt their family was complete. Miller, with her doctor’s recommendation, asked to have her tubes tied as a permanent form of birth control, a procedure used by millions of women in recent decades.
But she was denied the option at Redding’s Mercy Medical Center, which cited Catholic Church principles opposing abortion and sterilization. Only after the American Civil Liberties Union threatened a lawsuit did the Dignity Health-affiliated hospital relent and allow the contraceptive procedure. That was in late September, immediately after Miller gave birth to her second daughter.
Companies and nonprofits that don’t want to offer contraceptive coverage to employees for religious reasons can apply for an “accommodation,” meaning they don’t have to provide contraceptives but their employees can receive them through the insurance provider. In the cases to be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court in March, some groups, including several Catholic organizations, are seeking an “exception” to the ACA requirement, meaning there would be no contraceptive coverage for their employees. That status currently is granted only to houses of worship, such as churches, synagogues or mosques.
“It is a very challenging problem, because Catholic hospitals are governed by Catholic Church policies that … are completely unrelated to medical standards of care,” said Susan Berke Fogel, director of reproductive health for the National Health Law Program, based in Los Angeles. “They are refusing to provide the standard of care that everyone expects.” Read the full article here. »