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Jun 1, 2012
Sunday morning, a 24-year-old woman was raped in an apartment complex. She contacted her mother, who drove her to the nearest hospital (Integris Canadian Valley Hospital) to receive medical care for her assault. When they got there however, mother and daughter were shocked when the doctor assigned to her treatment informed them that due to budget cuts, there were no Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners on permanent staff to provide a rape kit. SANE nurses are specially trained and work only with rape victims, ensuring “the proper collection, preservation, and documentation of evidence” be provided to local law enforcement and the District Attorney “without re-traumatizing the victim.” Apparently, someone thought it was good enough to have SANE staff rotate monthly between four hospitals, each about 25- 35 minutes away from each other.
Worse, even though the hospital had emergency contraception available on hand and was not religiously affiliated, the doctor refused to provide emergency contraception to the young woman, based solely on the fact that it was against her “conscience.” In Oklahoma, and many other states, this is legal. “Conscience clauses” mean that if a medical provider has any personal, moral, or religious objection to performing or providing any specific act, they have the right to refuse care.
In an interview with KWTV News, the rape victim’s mother describes her shock and disappointment with how her daughter was treated.
“I was shocked that they wouldn’t provide treatment to a rape victim.”
“Her attitude was so condescending. It was like she was treating my daughter like she had done something wrong.”
My daughter said, “Is it you that won’t give [emergency contraception] to me? Do you have them here, and you just won’t give them to me?” And she said, “That’s right. I will not give you emergency contraceptives because it goes against my beliefs.”
“Even though she’d been advised that your daughter had just been raped?”
“Yes. Absolutely. She knew my daughter had just been raped.”
Reporter: Rhonda says at no time did the doctor offer to get another doctor at Canadian Valley Hospital to see them or to help her daughter.
“Her attitude was so judgmental. And I felt like she was just judging my daughter.”
This is yet another big problem because although the doctor had a right to personally refuse care, she also had “an obligation to minimize disruption in delivery of care,” which she clearly did not provide.
Rhonda decided to take her daughter to Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City, where she was relieved to see that her daughter was given proper medical care and treated with respect.
“She was treated so well there. The staff, the doctors, the SANE examiners, they were just so wonderful to her. She stopped feeling like she was at fault.”
It is beyond comprehension how someone with a medical degree would reject medical science. It is impossible that this young woman was pregnant, having come to the hospital the day she was raped. That’s just not how pregnancy works, and a doctor should know that. IF her ovary had released an egg sometime in the past 24 hours and was making its way through her fallopian tube, and IF her rapist hadn’t been wearing a condom, and IF one of his sperm had reached the egg by the time she got to the hospital, she would STILL be about 8 to 11 days away from the fertilized egg becoming fully implanted in her uterus, making her officially pregnant. This means that there is absolutely no way for the doctor to object to emergency contraception on the basis that it would end a pregnancy. And then she has the gall to talk down to this woman whose been raped, as if she can’t believe that anyone who was forced to have sex wouldn’t love to become a mother because of it. This woman doesn’t deserve to practice medicine if she’s going to prioritize religiously-influenced beliefs over provable medical facts.
I’m working on gathering more information on this doctor, including confirming her name, determining if any disciplinary action is going to be taken, and if she has a history of providing inadequate care. I’ll provide updates as the story progresses. In the meantime, you can contact the hospital through their website if you’d like to voice your opinion