Ooops….She Did It Again: Anti-Contraception Nurse Takes Women’s Wombs into Her Own Hands


This is the United States of America.

You know….that beacon of freedom for the entire world.

That bastion of excellence in everything.  The country that likes to think it sets the standard.

So you might think that when you go to a medically-trained doctor or nurse seeking to have your IUD adjusted, the fact that they were trained and certified as medical professionals in a field with clear standards and the fact that you live in a democracy that prides itself on leading the world in human rights (or used to) your wish simply to have the small problem you are experiencing with your IUD fixed would be respected.

You might be wrong.

Now, apparently, some nurses, doctors, physicians assistants and other providers feel empowered to decide for you whether contraceptives are ok, which ones, if any, you are allowed to use, and when you will stop using them irrespective of your wishes.  Not because of any medical reason.  Just because that particular provider does not like that particular method.  Or any method of contraception. Or maybe anything having to do with sex or sexuality.  It’s enough that s/he just does not like your choices.

This kind of situation has been much-discussed as a potential outcome of the new HHS rule to go into effect on Monday, January 19th.  But possibility and reality have already collided head-on in the story of a New Mexico woman whose IUD was removed by a nurse against the woman’s wishes and who is now suing both the nurse and the center in federal court for battery, constitutional violations and
negligence
.

The patient went to the Presbyterian Health Services Rio Rancho Family Health Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, and saw nurse practitioner Sylvia Olona.  Her request: Simply to shorten the strings on her IUD for greater comfort.

The result?  Nurse Olona took it upon herself to remove the troublesome device.  Why?  Simple, Nurse Olona told her patient:

"Having the IUD come out was a good thing [because] I personally
do not like IUDs. I feel they are a type of abortion. I don’t know how
you feel about abortion, but I am against them. …What the IUD does is take the
fertilized egg and pushes it out of the uterus."

Hmmmm….funny….I don’t think they teach this definition of abortion in medical or nursing school.  But in the free-for-all, define-your-own-medical-practice era of reproductive politics of the past 8 years, anything apparently goes. Nurse Olona could instead, with respect for herself and her patient, easily have said "I can’t help you with your IUD as I am uncomfortable with this form of contraception, but let me get you someone who can."

But no.  The patient’s own choices became the subject of a morality play inside the walls of Rio Rancho.  The federal complaint states:

"As soon as Defendant Olona began speaking to (the
plaintiff), she questioned her about her choice of contraception.
"As
Defendant Olona began the procedure, (the plaintiff) felt Olona pull on
the strings of the IUD. (The plaintiff) felt a distinct pulling on the
strings followed by a sharp pain in her uterus similar to a very strong
menstrual cramp.
"As that happened, Defendant Olona stated, ‘Uh
oh, I accidentally pulled out your IUD. I gently tugged and out it
came.’ She then explained, ‘I cut the string than went back and gently
pulled and out it came. It must have not been in properly.’

In true Britney Spears’ "oops I did it again" style, Nurse Olona stated:

‘Everyone in the office always laughs and tells me I pull
these out on purpose because I am against them, but it’s not true, they
accidentally come out when I tug.’

Nurse Olona, don’t be so coy….!  Just repeat what you told your patient:

"Defendant
Olona told (the plaintiff) that it was better that she did not have the
IUD because she could now use a "non-abortion" form of contraception.
Defendant Olona suggested the deprovera (depo) [sic] shot or the pill,
and made clear that she would not insert a new IUD."

As noted by Cristina Page today, and has been extensively documented elsewhere on Reality Check, unless we get a quick injunction against the recently formalized and nonsensically named HHS "provider conscience rule," these types of stories may become more and more frequent.

But what worries me is that this is happening now.  Before the HHS rule is actually in effect.  And may be happening frequently, with or without provider conscience rules, under the radar screen.  What this suggests to me is that even once we get rid of the new HHS rule–and we are all depending on the new Administration to do this as quickly as possible even with an unjunction–we need a new strategy, one which new HHS Secretary Daschle and the new Surgeon General must take on as soon as possible….issuing or re-issuing clear guidance to all medical and nursing professionals about the science and medical definitions of contraceptives and abortion; about the fact that contraception is not abortion and that contraception reduces unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion; about the fact that abortion is legal in the United States of America; and finally that patients rights to  privacy and informed choice and consent still mean something in this country.  Finally, we need a public discussion about the limits of power of individual medical practitioners to take women’s reproductive lives into their own hands.

Getting rid of the new rule won’t be enough.  Some people already are not playing by the rules. 

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Follow Jodi Jacobson on twitter: @jljacobson

  • alexm

    Thank you Ms Jacobson for this article, especially the last sentence:

     

    "Getting rid of the new rule won’t be enough. Some people already are not playing by the rules."

     

    Some of us in reproductive rights activism have been lamenting this for years. Thank you for bringing it to light in the context of the HHS revelations.

  • jodi-jacobson

    for your work on behalf of the rights of all people to make informed choices about their lives and to have those choices respected.

    If you know from personal experience about patterns of these sorts of actions on the part of individual caregivers or institutions recieving federal dollars, I would urge you to write up a story on these.  Exposure of the facts is a critical aspect of accountability.

    Best wishes, Jodi

  • invalid-0

    One nurse I ran into once wouldn’t take my BP cause I had an abortion and she saw that in my file. These HHS rules scare me cause that was two years ago what would happen to that nurse now under these HHS regs? I read Rh everyday and I have to say I have really enjoyed your articles Jodi I hope you stay on to inform us of things in the future.

    • invalid-0

      That’s horrible, and the nurse has no business being anywhere near a medical job. Hopefully that wouldn’t be covered under the “conscience” regulations, since just taking a blood pressure has nothing to do with abortions.
      .
      You never know, though…

    • http://sovoosbaratos.com/ invalid-0

      I think that is very discriminating and it is unethical to do! Someone that works as a nurse or doctor should help everyone that is what their job is! If she is against abortion or not it doesn’t give her the right to deny care! Or maybe it does with these strange new laws!

  • colleen

    "Exposure of the facts is a critical aspect of accountability."

     

    It’s also crucial if we are to expose these people for what they are. 

    Those opposed to contraceptives and particularly those who wish to force their views on women are a tiny and deeply unpopular minority.

  • jodi-jacobson

    Dear Liz,

    Thanks for writing and for your kind words.

    I am quite literally appalled by what you have reported here, though to some degree I can’t say I am surprised anymore.  How is it that a nurse decides not to take your blood pressure–a routine medical check that provides basic, critical information and helps identify potentially life-threatening conditions?  Because you once had an abortion?  In other words, there was no action involved here from what I can see that indicates a "conscienctious objection" in that moment…no "abortion activity" in which this provider was asked to be engaged.  

    Instead, this provider decided to withold care in a form of retroactive rebuke for a lawful, legal, moral, private decision you made at some point in the past.

    This is precisely the problem.  Through both the new HHS rule and through the lax enforcement of critical standards and medical ethics in at least some places before this we are encouraging people who clearly do not understand their larger obligations to take both law and medicine into their own hands.

    I hope others here will take the same step you have here and tell their own stories–and we encourage them to do so.  We need to bring these into the light of day.

    With all best wishes and hope to keep in touch.

     

    Jodi

  • invalid-0

    She’s not a nurse in any way. New Mexico’s licensing board says she’s a Physician’s Assistant.

  • invalid-0

    I am so glad I live in Canada where none of this garbage goes on. Just goes to show never go to any religious, Christian based hospital.

  • invalid-0

    Whether she is a nurse or PA Olona should be fired and never allowed to have any type of medical job ever again. She has no right to impose her own views on others by way of her job.

    Whether or not she is pulling out the IUD’s on purpose she is dictating to patients how they should live their lives. People like her must be shown they cannot dictate what choices others make.

  • invalid-0

    Before any sort of medical procedure, a patient must be able to give informed consent. If a medical professional doesn’t obtain informed consent, or if he/she does an unwanted procedure, this constitutes the tort of battery.
    .
    Nurse Olona’s patient should sue. Not for malpractice, but for battery. This won’t be covered under malpractice insurance, and Olona should be liable for the full judgement.
    .
    The new “conscience rule” only says that entities can not “discriminate” in employment practices. There is nothing in there that denies patients their own form of recourse. If the new administration does not act swiftly to reverse this bit of medical nonsense, we women should start acting ourselves.

  • invalid-0

    What the hell is this?

    I shall never, ever, understand militant forced-birthers. How a woman could be so against her own sex is beyond me. Who is she to think that she is right to deliberately hurt others? It’s the “oopsie daisy, tee hee” attitude she has towards her patient’s pain that is really galling. It sounds as though she has a history of it, too. Apparently the clinic where she works thinks its hilarious that women are being violated against their will at the hands of this sadistic pro-liar.

    I hope this idiot gets fired, barred for life from working in medicine, bankrupted and left destitute with her reputation in tatters. It would certainly teach her not to act out her silly God-complex on unwilling patients.

  • invalid-0

    It would also seem that the pro-liars have redefined abortion as “not actively trying to get pregnant”. I suppose a word can mean whatever you want it to when you’ve the magical sky-pixie on your side. Sigh… they really hate us, don’t they?

    • invalid-0

      Actually, medically, what IUDs do (and sometimes birth control pills, as well) IS considered abortion. So is a miscarriage, for that matter. (And yes, I *was* taught that in nursing school, in spite of what the article purports.) To set the record straight, they’re well within their rights to use that term. What that medical “professional” did, though, is absolutely deplorable!

      • invalid-0

        You’re full of shit.

        The Pill (and IUDs) PREVENT FERTILIZATION AND IMPLANTATION. Abortion *removes* a zygote/embryo *that* *has* *already* *implanted* *in* *the* *uterine* *lining*. Therefore, Pill/IUD are NOT abortifacients.

        I’m not even a med student, and *I* know this. How the hell you ever got into med school is a mystery to me.

  • amanda-marcotte

    Really have control issues.  Add to that a culturally inculcated fear and loathing about sex, and you’ve got situations like these.  I grew up in a conservative community, and there was definitely a sense that women who have sex have no rights.  By making the choice to be a "slut" (however you define that), you somehow choose to give up basic respect.  Result: Gossip and social ostracism at best, but in worse case scenarios, birth control manipulation, or looking the other way when you’re raped or abused.

  • http://tangowithevita.blogspot.com invalid-0

    …abstinence is abortion! What say the abstinence-only education pushers now?

  • jodi-jacobson

    In response to your comment, I just want to make sure it is clear this patient is in fact suing….as stated in the blog, she is suing for battery and negligence among other claims.

     

    And while I appreciate your statement underscoring that the HHS rule does not say that patients can not sue, I think we can not overstate the urgency of getting rid of these restrictions.  There are issues of timeliness here in people not getting health care that they seek, expect, and need, often on an urgent basis.  Lawsuits take time during which patients are foregoing information, care and possibly surgical procedures they made need and for which they may not have easy alternative access.  So while I agree that we can and should use the law to our advantage if in fact we do not get an injunction quickly, we need to focus first on ensuring the Administration does get rid of this rule and acts proactively to ensure the law is clear on patients rights to access reproductive and sexual health care.

     

    Thanks for your post.  I’d welcome your further input.

     

    Jodi

    • invalid-0

      Jodi, thank you for clarifying. I didn’t catch that the first time I read the article.
      .
      Interestingly, the case that established the idea of medical battery occurred at the hospital where I trained… 80 years before I got there! It was Schloendorff v. Society of New York Hospital, and Justice Cardozo wrote the opinion. “Every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own body; and a surgeon who performs an operation without his patient’s consent commits an assault for which he is liable in damages.” This is a principle that needs to be stated early and often.
      .
      While I appreciate that we need to get rid of the regulation itself, for the reasons you stated, I wouldn’t underestimate the power of a patient lawsuit. Hit ‘em in the pocketbook enough times, and people will hopefully start to take notice.
      .
      Best wishes,
      D

  • invalid-0

    Loathe as I am to increase the number of medical lawsuits out there, but shouldn’t one be able to sue in this case? Not practicing according to the standard of care, increasing your worries over your health condition, or something?!

    • invalid-0

      This isn’t med-mal, it’s battery.

      Malpractice is when a medical professional performs a procedure that you consented to negligently. Battery is any unconsented physical contact, including unauthorized medical procedures.

  • invalid-0

    As per our commenting policy, comments that are threatening or which do not further productive dialogue in any way may be deleted without explanation. This comment advocated violence and so it was deleted. Thank you for keeping the discussion civil.

     

    Amie Newman

    Managing Editor, RH Reality Check

  • invalid-0

    I think the HHS rules are tangential. The nurse/PA did not have consent, so the patient has recourse. The nurse is not allowed to perform unauthorised procedures as a matter of conscience under the HHS guidelines.

  • jodi-jacobson

    You are right, SG.  The HHS rule does not sanction actions taken by health care workers proactively, as was done in this case. 

    My concern however is that again, the very broad and vague nature of the rule, and the climate in which reproductive and sexual health and rights is now discussed…the fact that these instances apparently happen more than we realize…and the fact that the burden is put on a patient to take this to court makes me concerned that the rule only exacerbates these problems.

    We need to do more to educate people about their rights in these instances and a more effective strategy including a clearinghouse for tracking them so that the line between incident and pattern can be clearly discerned.

    Thanks for your comment.  Jodi

     

  • alexm

    Thank you for your feedback, Jodi! I really appreciate it.  My area of interest is in the internalized damage inflicted on women who seek information about abortion via the internet, who encounter websites whose cause is to create barriers to choice, rather than educate women so they can make an informed choice. 

     

    I know from my activism, as well as from my contacts in the field of social work, that this is an issue for health care providers who find that patients use the internet for research on abortion.  They often hold misconceptions that the anti-choice is responsible for disseminating, such as the claim that abortion causes breast cancer.  Without the critical skills to analyze sex education websites, women
    researching abortion online are susceptible to these sneaky tactics.

    Just today I submitted a proposal for a Master’s thesis which will
    explore the way the internet as a communication medium has affected the
    discourse on abortion, and the effects on pre- and post- operative
    women who chose abortion. 
    I have an unpublished manuscript on this phenomenon, which I have entitled "Wealth and Stealth": The New Attack on Women’s Reproductive Freedom in Canada". Because I am a Master of Social Work student at the University of Toronto, this study will be conducted in the Canadian context. However, I will be researching websites based in the US from evangelical ring wing organizations.

     

    I have contributed wikis on RHRealityCheck on two groups I know well: The Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform and Feminists for Life. I would be more than happy to share my manuscript with you and hear your input.

  • alexm

    In large Canadian city centres it’s relatively easy to get an abortion.  (In Toronto in 2004, the wait time was about 2 weeks.  That’s a start, but not good enough).  In rural areas, access to abortion or even women’s health services in general (eg contraception, prenatal care) can be an issue.

     

    Our current government isn’t helping either.  The Americans got rid of their neocon misogynist, it’s high time we did the same!  Prochoice activists can’t rest easy in today’s current political and social climate.

  • invalid-0

    SING IT WITH ME, NOW!

    “Every sperm is saaaaacrrrrreeeeddd, everrrrry speeeerrrrrrm is greeeeeaaaaaatttt…”

  • invalid-0

    As a pro-choice, contraceptive-prescribing, IUD-inserting Nurse Practitioner, I cringed when I read Olona was a Nurse Practitioner (NP).

    Although educational levels vary between states and between the US and Canada, generally NPs require a bachelors of science prior to entering the NP program, and usually the NP programs are Masters level. Physicians Assistants (PAs) pre-requisites are much more relaxed, lower and variant between states, and often the courses lack the deeper and broader ethics and theory as compared to NP courses.

    I mention this only because a nursing background, at least in Canada, is usually given from either a feminist perspective or a patient-centred perspective- i.e., the patient may have their beliefs and the nurse may not impose his/ her own…. We also have an obligation in Canada to offer another practitioner if we object morally to the procedure the patient requests.

    Anyway it looks like she is a PA, not an NP. I hope so, at least!

    I really hope this does not turn anyone away from seeking care from an NP. In my experience, NPs generally give excellent, woman-friendly care!!!

    p.s. i leave the IUDs in unless the patient wants hers out :)

    • alexm

      Thank you for the comparison of the US and Canada systems.  I’m working with a lot of Masters of Nursing students while completing my placement for my MSW in Toronto.  In the perinatal unit, working from a feminist/client centered perspective is absolutely essential. 

       

      I’ve never even heard of the position "physician’s assistant".  Are there many of them in Canada?

       

      The personal is political.

  • jodi-jacobson

    Dear Anonymous NP,

     

    I appreciated your note regarding the distinction between these two professional identities and will, when we can on Wednesday, verify the actual title held by the defendant in this case, as there have now been three different descriptions I have seen.

    For me, whether this person was a PA, NP, RN, MD or some other form of medically trained practitioner is somewhat beside the point.  She is/was apparently considered to be sufficiently trained and licensed to carry out insertions and removals of IUDs as well as related care.  She appears from the info on the case to make a habit of removing IUDs and making women’s choices for them.  It also appears that her colleagues and superiors knew or had some inkling that this was going on and yet still had her performing these functions.

    My concern is: Why is *any* trained medical professional making reproductive decisions like this for women?  It is a violation of the patient’s basic human rights.  Why did the center not take action the first time it happened and people became aware of it?  And why do they appear, at least from the description, to treat it so lightly?

    Whatever the other reasons, I believe one important reason is that we have allowed a culture to develop of disrespect for women and sex and reproduction so deep that practitioners begin to see this kind of behavior as "ok" or "part of the provider’s rights."

    To me, this is the point of the story.

    I would think that no one would hesitate to trust an NP or any other well-trained professional who showed respect to the individual seeking care.   Thank you for being one among those.

     

    Jodi

     

     

  • invalid-0

    If she keeps “accidentally” pulling patient’s IUD’s out when she’s trying to do something else, then she’s incompetent to do her job. If a medical professional, say, a nurse, tried to give vaccines but often missed the patient’s arm muscle and accidentally stabbed them in the stomach instead, I’m pretty sure s/he would be stripped of her/his license, because s/he would be incompetent to do something she was licensed to do.

    It’s actually close to genital mutilation. Olona took it into her own hands to change the state of the patient’s reproductive system, without the patient’s consent. Whatever it’s called or charged as, it’s totally criminal behavior and is definitely assault.

  • emma

    Why on earth was this woman not fired long ago, given that it sounds like she has a history of doing this and that her colleagues are aware of it?! And is she not criminally liable??

     

    I just don’t get what goes on in these people’s heads.

  • invalid-0

    . . . the intellectual pathology of organized religious belief.

    If your emotional and intellectual life is tied up with a situation where it’s normal to take statements pulled entirely out of someone’s ass as literally unquestionable truths (as is de rigueur in your average Sunday sermon), it’s not much of a leap to think it’s okay to do that sort of thing yourself.

    It might be prudent to question health practitioners about their beliefs before any non-emergency procedures. Of course, given the Gumby-like flexibility of their ethics, anti-choicers are likely to lie.

  • invalid-0

    Just out of curiosity: The complaint states the plaintiff was using Mirena. Is this the same device as the one available in Europe under this name, which is a device releasing hormones, not a “real” iud?
    – If yes, I just don’t understand how the hospital can let this woman do anything else than cleaning the parking lot…

    • angryreptilekeeper

      Who cares if it was a "real" IUD or not? That still doesn’t give her the right to do what she did.

  • invalid-0

    That’s even worse!!!

    PAs have far more education than Nurses. It’s a graduate level program for people who already have a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing or some other health related field.

    This is a person who should lose her certification immediately.

    • invalid-0

      JimK You are simply incorrect when you say that “PAs have far more education than Nurses” – additionally, nurses are independently licensed professionals, whereas PAs function under the direction and licenses of physicians.

  • invalid-0

    When I moved home to Alabama from college at 23 years old, I asked my family doctor to write a prescription for the birth control pills I had been getting from Planned Parenthood. He told me that he could not in good conscience write prescriptions for birth control because he thought in some circumstances they could cause the “abortion” of a fertilized egg. I thought he had his facts wrong, and tried to tell him so, but he gave me a stern lecture that he was the doctor and knew what he was talking about. I then asked him if he could refer me to a ob/gyn who WOULD prescribe birth control. He said that he could refer me to someone, but his choice of ob/gyn depended on what hospital I wanted to have my babies in. I calmly reminded him that I didn’t want to have babies at all–that’s why I wanted to get my birth control pills. He eventually gave me the referal (required by my insurance), but it took me 2 months to get an appointment. By that time, I had been off the pill for some time. I’m very lucky I didn’t get pregnant during that time. If I had, I have had an abortion, and it would have been my family doctor’s fault! I think this attitude among medical professionals is causing a lot of unplanned pregnancies and the women who are victims are too young, uninformed or poor to do anything about it.

    • invalid-0

      I wonder, why should a doctor have to give a referral? It’s like asking for a permission slip to someone who does not own you.
      And waiting for two months for an appointment about birth control should be against the law.

      We should have a line to the Senator or insurance company or someone who should have to shoulder the burden and cost of supporting doctors and nurses who don’t do their job.

  • invalid-0

    I think that 5 to 10 years imprisonment for felonious assault would cure her of her meddling in other people’s business. I hope to see her tried and convicted, since she is surely guilty.

  • invalid-0

    IUD as well as the morning after pill are not rights! We live in a country of FREEDOM of Religious beliefs, Correct? I am a pharmacist and took an oath to CARE and PROTECT, not kill the unborn. I support the Nurse as caring for her patient and the right of the unborn. I did not sign up to be an ABORTIONIST when receiving my pharmacy degree, as I am sure this nurse did not as well! She can educate the patient to NFP, the NATURAL way for all of you environmentalists!!! It’s uninvasive and purely natural!

    • emma

      Anonymous-Pro-Life-Pharmacist (who sounds an awful lot like the commenter who refers to her/himself as ‘Truth’):

      Calm down. Cutting IUD strings is not performing an abortion.

      Since you’re a pharmacist – if a patient came to you with a script for a medication you didn’t like, would you switch it for a different kind of medication without telling the patient? Because this PA did the equivalent of that.

      (Any pharmacist who does think it’s ok to switch a patient’s medication around should be fired and kicked out of their profession.)

    • invalid-0

      What about the care and protection of women? If you cannot do your job, then perhaps you should find another field to work in. One where you wouldn’t have to get your hands dirty with such things as women’s health.
      You claim that you took an oath to care and protect. Do you care for and protect the woman who’s life would be at risk should she get pregnant at any time? Do you care and protect the woman who due to a hormone imbalance, REQUIRES the use of hormonal birth control pills for medical reasons that have nothing to do with fertility or preventing pregnancy? This country was founded on religious freedom, yes, but your religious freedom ends where women’s rights to proper health care begin. Once again, I suggest you find another field of work rather than endangering the health and wellbeing of women who come to you for services expecting to have their needs met. I have to ask, why did you bother to become a pharmacist if you are against the medications you would be expected to provide to people? I personally suspect it had more to do with your own financial gain than a need to provide any type of care to people, otherwise you would show care and concern for ALL patients you provide services for, not just those who meet your personal standards.

  • invalid-0

    First of all, women do have a RIGHT to the contraceptive method of their choice. As you said, we live in a country of FREEDOM- and not just of religious belief. We also have the freedom to do what we will with our bodies.
    Second, adjusting an IUD does not in any way constitute providing an abortion. There has to be a fetus to remove for an abortion to take place, and as the article clearly states, the patient was not pregnant.
    What that nurse did, she did for her own reasons. The care of her patient was obviously the last thing on her mind. Her patient paid for that IUD. She wanted it to stay in.
    If the nurse was against helping this woman, she could have easily found someone else to do it. Instead she took it upon herself to physically force her beliefs on another person (one would think that you would be opposed to this, considering the big deal you make about freedom of belief- or do you feel that only the god-fearing have any kind of rights?).
    I hope that nurse looses her job, her liscence, and anything else that would allow her to touch another human being in any way. What she did was despicable.

  • invalid-0

    IUD as well as the morning after pill are not rights! We live in a country of FREEDOM of Religious beliefs, Correct? I am a pharmacist and took an oath to CARE and PROTECT, not kill the unborn. I support the Nurse as caring for her patient and the right of the unborn. I did not sign up to be an ABORTIONIST when receiving my pharmacy degree, as I am sure this nurse did not as well! She can educate the patient to NFP, the NATURAL way for all of you environmentalists!!! It’s uninvasive and purely natural!

    Oy! What kind of ethics training did you have in your pharmacy school? Obviously it wasn’t the kind that included information about beneficence and patient autonomy. It also seems to have neglected to cover informed consent.
    .
    Hopefully your employer figures this out.

  • invalid-0

    If your religious beliefs require the forcible removal of a contraceptive implant without the express knowledge and consent of the patient and against her doctor’s orders, thereby making it harder for her to avoid an unplanned pregnancy, than perhaps it is time either re-examine those beliefs or find another line of work–one that does not interfere with your religious practices. You are ill-suited for the medical field in any capacity and would be better off teaching Sunday School, hauling freight across the country, or cleaning toilets.

    The PA in the article would do well with some time to meditate upon her actions in light of her religion’s doctrines without interruptions–say, in a 6×6 concrete meditation chamber, thoughtfully supplied for the federal government. 5 to 10 years of her adult life should be more than enough time to devote to the purpose.

    • wendy-banks

      Well said!

      I too think this PA should never be allowed to touch another woman again. Any medical professional that puts their religion ahead of a patient’s health, or refuses to do their job should be fired, and have their licence PULLED, and should never be able to get it back. It is at the very least unprofessional conduct, and at the most malpractice.

  • invalid-0

    This incident is absolutely terrible. As has been pointed out, she could have gotten someone else if she was uncomfortable dong the procedure. Rather it sounds like a sad attempt at an excuse instead.
    And to the self identified pharmacist, you really don’t help your case by using some of the top styles of fundamentalists in whatever belief. These include random capitalisation and strings of !!! And if your beliefs get in the way of properly (and legally) doing your job, as another commenter pointed out it might not be the job for you.
    (sorry for any odd formating, using my n770 to post)

  • invalid-0

    What this horrible person did is NOT a protected action under any conscience clauses, if she did indeed do it on purpose (which, it seems like she has a history of such behavior).

    Actions that aggressively violate the bodily inegrity of others (legally, battery) are not given protection under these laws. Practitioners and professionals are covered only for INaction when there is no imminent danger to the patient or customer.

    I came over here from Feministing in order to post this horrible story on my website. But I just had to leave this comment.

    Sorry, you can’t use this story to point out why conscience clauses are bad. Deliberately removing the IUD isn’t covered.

  • angryreptilekeeper

    Then why in the seven hells are you a pharmacist? Last I checked, freedom of religion didn’t include the right to inconvenience others. If I’m not mistaken, we also have a right to freedom from religion.

    You surely knew before you became a pharmacist that you’d be filling such prescriptions. Just shut up and do your job. The company you work for isn’t paying you to play activist. If you don’t like it, then go into business for yourself. Or better yet, just quit. The last thing someone needs is some pushy, egotistical, self-righteous stranger making their decisions for them.
    Religion has no place on the job.

    If you ever denied me pills, you’d be seeing a letter from my lawyer and a big fat bill for the abortion in your mailbox.

     

    Natural family planning may be natural, but guess what else? It also doesn’t work for beans!

     

    Am I the only one who thinks that refusing to fill a prescription based on unfounded personal beliefs should be considered obstruction of medical treatment and/or malpractice?

    • invalid-0

      For the record, natural family planning is actually in the same range of effectiveness as The Pill and condoms/spermicide, IF IT’S DONE RIGHT. This is NOT the same thing as the old Rhythm Method.

      That being said, anyone who’s smart enough to get a medical certification is smart enough to know that, depending on your specialty, you might just get asked to perform procedures that are contrary to your own personal beliefs. The answer, clearly, is not to impose your beliefs on others in a secular setting, but to do one of a few things:

      CONSIDER ANOTHER CAREER, for chrissake!!!

      Keep the career you have your heart set on, but find a job in a setting that meets your personal needs, as well. Refuse to work in a setting that makes you compromise your beliefs. There are a lot of faith-based healthcare settings out there that simply don’t offer certain kinds of services – work there. If the economy is so bad, or those resources don’t exist in your area… either follow your beliefs at all costs in terms of moving to another area, cutting back, getting help, etc., or put your personal beliefs aside for the 40-ish hours you’re in a work setting that doesn’t support your beliefs.

      This isn’t that hard, people.

      Sheesh.

  • invalid-0

    The only thing I don’t care for is the blanket statement “…nurses and doctors now feel empowered…” etc. Maybe I’m just being nit-picky, but nearly all of the people I work with would never put their personal belief’s above a patient’s right to health care. They certainly would not force a procedure on a patient and then claim that it was *merely* and accident.

    I’m sure this nurse will be charged without any sort of malpractice protection. As others have stated, her actions are in NO way condoned by the HHS.

  • http://canow.org invalid-0

    We linked back to this in a post on the CA NOW blog about our wishlist for President Obama’s first week in office.

  • jodi-jacobson

    Hi Brbr….

    I would have to respectfully disagree that this is not linked to conscience clauses.  I recognize and concur that de jure this is not an action condoned by conscience clauses.  As a practical matter, however, it is in fact linked to the climate in which we have lived for the past 8 years and frankly longer.  It is a climate in which increasing restrictions have been put on women’s health, declining funding provided for services and a deliberate blurring the lines of provider ethics and behavior. 

    Vagueness in law can be a deliberate strategy for undermining people’s rights, and has been used repeatedly by representatives of the far right in Congress both domestically and internationally to squash free speech, create a chilling effect, or empower certain actors to act a certain way….unless they are caught.  Tax rules do not allow Tim Geithner not to pay taxes on his earnings, but he failed to do so until he was caught.

    So my point is not that the HHS guidelines formally state this kind of behavior is allowed, but rather that the climate in which we have been living, and the lack of proactive standard setting, public education, and obfuscation of contraception versus abortion in the medical field has allowed some actors to take these steps without accountability.  It is only when individuals, rather than the government, demand accountability that these actions come to light.  In this instance the plaintiff is suing; we don’t know how many such instances in this same realm may have occured.  

    My guess, however, is that judging just by the examples provided by commentors, the use of "personally defined conscience clauses without accountability" is more widespread than we might think.

     

    We can leave it to individuals to litigate these things, or we can do good research to find out how providers understand these connections, are doing their work, and seek to educate them and patients proactively to ensure that there is a shared, minimum standard which people can expect.

     

    Thanks for the comment.  Jodi

    • invalid-0

      Jodi says:

      We can leave it to individuals to litigate these things, or we can do good research to find out how providers understand these connections, are doing their work, and seek to educate them and patients proactively to ensure that there is a shared, minimum standard which people can expect.

      Why not do both?

  • jodi-jacobson

    I should more accurately have said "some."

     

    Jodi

  • jodi-jacobson

    We are eager to share and work together in this way however possible.

     

    Jodi

  • invalid-0

    Nope, you’re not the only one who thinks that way. It’s not only malpractice, but also assault/battery.

  • jodi-jacobson

    I corrected the sentence in question……thanks so much for pointing that out.

     

    Jodi

  • invalid-0

    You have _no damn business_ in the field of pharmacy, any more than some militant vegan has the right to work at Burger King, refuse to serve burgers, and expect to keep their job.

    Go do something that involves caring for _born_ children, and you might have some credibility.

  • invalid-0

    I wonder, why should a doctor have to give a referral? It’s like asking for a permission slip to someone who does not own you. And waiting for two months for an appointment about birth control should be against the law.

    This may have been during the early days of managed care; every insurance company I know of now considers ob/gyn’s to be primary care practitioners and does not require referrals.
    .
    As for waiting two months for an appointment, it isn’t just for birth control. People wait several months for new patient appointments for any type of physician, where I live. It’s got to do with reimbursement rates, malpractice, etc. I’m not saying it’s a good thing, but at least it’s not limited to women’s health.

  • invalid-0

    You are confused about the breadth of protection offered in this HHS rule. It is far smaller than you think. If the nurse in question removed the IUD against the patient’s wishes, the patient is protected under informed consent laws and the nurse should be reprimanded (licensure, lawsuit, etc). The HHS rule does not give carte blanche protection to health care workers to do whatever they want to patients in the name of religious beliefs. It does allow them to OPT OUT of certain practices if they have a moral objection. I am tired of people characterizing this rule as some intrusion into women’s choices. If this rule was properly followed, the nurse who doesn’t like IUDs would have chosen to opt out of doing the adjustment without fear of coercion or punishment, and the patient could have another nurse make the adjustment. If this rule is stricken and healthcare providers are forced into doing things they disagree with morally, then women won’t know if they are interacting with someone who shares their beliefs. At least under the rule, everyone can be out in the open about their beliefs, and patients can find like-minded providers. If the rule is rescinded, we may see more of this kind of under-the-table sabotage, not less.

  • invalid-0

    You’re confused, too. There are already protections in place allowing people to opt out of things they find objectionable. This rule just places an unacceptable stumbling block in the way of patients trying to obtain medical care.
    .
    You say, “At least under the rule, everyone can be out in the open about their beliefs.” Not really. Under the new law, practitioners can avoid even giving information about medical options. They don’t have to give reasons, they can just avoid talking about an alternative. That’s not being “out in the open.”

  • jodi-jacobson

    My point, probably not clear, is that I think it is incumbent upon us to make good public policy based on good evidence and make it as clearly as possible.  When people have due cause to sue, they should.

    But I don’t think it is a good strategy to make bad public policy, based on ideology and vague instructions to medical providers, and then leave it to individuals to fight the battle….alone.

    We clearly need both: But in a situation where there is good policy based on evidence and basic rights, we will have less cause for lots of lawsuits, I would hope.

    Best, Jodi

  • invalid-0

    I totally agree! I never meant to say that individual women should be left to fight alone. I meant that individual women, should they have the misfortune to be placed in a situation where their rights are violated, would be in a good position to help change public policy by going through the courts.
    .
    I think we’re saying the same thing, only in slightly different fashion. :-)

  • invalid-0

    Dr Dredd, we agree on something. The HHS rule WAS put in place to enforce laws that already exist. Yet too many medical schools, hospitals, and now professional organizations like ACOG ignore laws like the Weldon Amendment and threaten docs who won’t participate in procedures that they object to based on personal beliefs. All this rule does is withhold federal funding from institutions that refuse to abide by these decades-old laws. There’s nothing “new” here. Regarding your concern about withholding information, informed consent laws still exist and protect patients.

    By the way, if the pro-choice lobby is so concerned about informed consent, do you know why they are against laws requiring women to view an ultrasound before going through an abortion? Seems hypocritical to me.

  • invalid-0

    “Yet too many medical schools, hospitals, and now professional organizations like ACOG ignore laws like the Weldon Amendment and threaten docs who won’t participate in procedures that they object to based on personal beliefs.”

    Cites…please?

  • invalid-0
  • invalid-0

    I haven’t had time to read all four of the references you provided, so I’ll confine myself to “Religious discrimination in the selection of medical students: a case study.”
    .
    The authors of the article overstate their conclusions. Actual admissions data were not provided. We have no idea if any of the applicants were actually denied admission. Yes, some of the faculty members seemed to have problems with some of the applicants, but other members of the committee did not. We have no way of knowing whether this affected the ultimate decision to offer an applicant a spot in the class.

  • invalid-0

    Regarding your concern about withholding information, informed consent laws still exist and protect patients.

    Hopefully that would be true. But would a hospital really sanction someone for not obtaining informed consent if the issue were likely to go to court under the “conscience clause”? Similarly, would the existence of the clause protect from malpractice litigation? I don’t know, but I don’t particularly want to find out. I think it’s a dangerous precedent to advocate the withholding of information for any reason.
    .

    By the way, if the pro-choice lobby is so concerned about informed consent, do you know why they are against laws requiring women to view an ultrasound before going through an abortion? Seems hypocritical to me.

    Well, any law that requires a medical procedure like an ultrasound defeats the consent part of informed consent. As part of prenatal care, the woman no doubt has already had ultrasounds. Why should she be forced to have another one if she doesn’t feel it necessary to make her decision?
    .
    We don’t force people to have a stress test prior to a cardiac angiogram, or to have a CT scan prior to an appendectomy. We assume the patient and the physician have come to conclusions about treatment in their own best fashion. Treating women seeking pregnancy termination differently is insulting and, IMHO, unethical.

  • http://www.gratisforsikringstilbud.dk invalid-0

    Keep the career you have your heart set on, but find a job in a setting.

  • invalid-0

    Because the assualt that this nurse committed was of a sexual nature, (anti-sexual) she should be charged with sexual assualt!

  • http://www.freeannuityrates.com/annuities/fixed/immediate-fixed-annuity.php invalid-0

    The real life Anti-Sex League has exploited the public’s concerns over the Did It Again: Anti-Contraception Nurse Takes Women’s Wombs into Her Own Hands. …