Washington State, Reproductive health policy, Hospital, Catholic-affiliated hospital, Abortion, Contraception
Background: In 2014, the governor of Washington State mandated that all hospitals publically post a reproductive health policy amidst concerns about the lack of clarity among the public how hospitals handled various aspects of reproductive health care.
Methods: The objective of this study is to assess the clarity of abortion and contraception service provision in the hospital reproductive health policies for the public in Washington State. All Washington State hospital reproductive health policies (n = 88) were analyzed in 2016 using content analysis. Results were stratified by Catholic religious affiliation of the hospital.
Results: There were more similarities than differences between the non-Catholic and Catholic hospital reproductive health policies; however, there were a few differences. Non-Catholic hospitals were more likely than Catholic hospitals to use legal language (except for emergency contraception), include conscientious clause for providers (44% vs. 0%), and were less likely to specify that emergency contraception use was available for sexual assault victims only (16% vs 54%). Most hospital reproductive health policies, regardless of Catholic affiliation, provided more confusion than clarity in terms of abortion and contraception service provision.
Conclusions: The impact of Catholic, and non-Catholic, affiliated hospital care on patients who need abortion and contraceptive services is concerning. Given the difficulties in meeting the goals of increased transparency for the public through hospital policy language, the government should instead mandate hospitals use a standardized checklist. Additionally, patients are in dire need of positive rights to information about and services to avoid the potential gap in care that the negative rights afforded to providers and facilities to opt-out of providing abortion and contraceptive services have created.
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© The Author(s). 2018 Open Access
Schwandt, Hilary; Sparkle, Bethany; and Post-Kinney, Moriah, "Ambiguities in Washington State Hospital Policies, Irrespective of Catholic Affiliation, Regarding Abortion and Contraception Service Provision" (2018). Fairhaven Faculty Publications. 17.
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