by Emily Bridges, MLS
In the last five years we have seen pharmacists refuse to give out a legal medication to women in need (emergency contraception) because of their personal beliefs. We’ve learned that if a woman goes to a Catholic hospital she may be denied an abortion even if it would save her life. We saw an attempt to pass legislation allowing doctors to refuse treatment to GLBTQ people if the doctors are opposed to homosexuality.
And now this. (From RH Reality Check)
“…one particularly disturbing obstacle that was mentioned in city after city: doctors refusing to care for women who have had abortions. Mind you, these are not doctors refusing to perform abortions. What we heard, in three separate communities, was that there are doctors who refuse to perform routine post-abortion check-ups or even to provide care for completely unrelated ailments to women who previously had abortions.”
This is a chilling turn of events: refusal to see patients who have previously had a COMPLETELY LEGAL MEDICAL PROCEDURE the doctor happens to disapprove of.
Imagine a young woman of 19 who gets headaches. Or stomachaches. Or has a lump in her breast. She’s told the doctor won’t see her because she had an abortion at 16.
Imagine a young woman who is experiencing PID (pelvic infammatory disease). She goes to the doctor (one of a very limited number who accept Medicaid patients), and knowing of his policies, simply conceals the information that she had an abortion a year ago – information vital to proper diagnosis and treatment.
In either case the woman is shamed and dehumanized; her health, well-being, future, and even life are endangered – all over, again, a legal medical procedure. It’s sick and it’s sad. It is a stain on the medical profession and on the nation.
How can a person who has entered a profession centered on healing the sick and ensuring wellness, deny someone the care they need as punishment? What’s next on this slippery slope – policemen not answering calls to those who don’t support their preferred political party? Teachers simply ignoring students whose parents don’t support teacher unions?
Or hey, let’s stay on doctors – why not refuse patients who don’t like the same sports team as you? Or are members of a race you’re not a member of?
These ideas all seem unthinkable. But the dialogue around reproductive and sexual health and rights has shifted so far right that outrages like the one in Illinois barely have the power to surprise anymore. These are the consequences of the extremist views that politicians and far-right activists promulgate – and which we MUST work to counter.
NOTE: This story is still new, so we’ll update as more information becomes available. If you or someone you know has been denied medical care or experienced harassment from a health care professional because of an abortion in your medical history, please get in touch with us at