An Oklahoma emergency room doctor refused to provide emergency contraception to a 24-year-old female rape victim because the medication violated the health provider’s personal beliefs, a local CBS News affiliate reports. The hospital also denied the victim a rape kit, noting that it had no appropriate nurse on staff to administer the test.
“I will not give you emergency contraceptives because it goes against my beliefs,” the doctor allegedly told the rape victim and her mother, Rhonda. “She knew my daughter had just been raped. Her attitude was so judgmental and I felt that she was just judging my daughter,” Rhonda told the news station. Watch the segment:
Emergency contraception’s effectiveness diminishes over time, and is most effective when taken immediately. Oklahoma law, however, shields providers from offering the perfectly legal medication under a “conscience clause” which could significantly hinder women’s access to contraception services. States across the nation have adopted similar restrictions and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has pledged to expand Bush-era rules permitting doctors to place their beliefs ahead of women’s health.
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Fortunately, the young woman in Oklahoma ended up going to another hospital, where she received the medication she needed and the rape kit. But she would have had to go to two hospitals either way, since budget cuts have forced the state to resort to a system of rotating Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE nurses).