Online Program

Physicians concerns about catholic hospital ob-gyn care

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 5:15 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Lori Freedman, PhD, ANSIRH/Dept of Ob-gyn, University of California, San Francisco, Oakland, CA
Hannah Snyder, Department of Family Medicine c/o Debra Stulberg, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Debra Stulberg, MD, Department of Family Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Physicians working in Catholic hospitals have significant concerns about the impact of Catholic doctrine on ob-gyn care. Based upon 31 in-depth interviews conducted in 2011 with ob-gyns working in a variety of Catholic institutions around the U.S., we share qualitative findings about how restrictions on abortion and sterilization affect care. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using Atlas.ti per inductive and grounded theoretical methods. The interview data include complex patient care scenarios in which physician petitioned ethics committees, who served as gatekeepers to prohibited care, asking them to make exceptions to abortion and sterilization prohibitions based upon the physician's medical concerns for the patient. Ethics committees, comprised of clergy, administrators, and clinicians, possessed more authority than physicians over such decisions. The clinical scenarios cited were not ethically problematic for the patients or the doctors, but rather they became ethical problems because of the institutional policies circumscribing them. More a matter of institutional power than individual "conscience", care was denied or delayed in ways that run counter to current medical practice.

Learning Areas:

Ethics, professional and legal requirements
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe findings from qualitative interviews with physicians who work in Catholic health systems. Discuss how Catholic doctrine impacts daily ob-gyn care. Show physicians' medical and ethical concerns regarding the denial of emergency abortion and sterilization care.

Keyword(s): Abortion, Contraception

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked closely as a medical student researcher with my co-authors to collect and analyze data on this topic.
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.