Philadelphia Adopts Religious Exemption Policy For Publicly Funded Clinic Doctors

The City of Brotherly Love has adopted a new religious exemption policy that could seriously affect the health of patients using publicly funded clinics.

From Religion Dispatches:

The city of Philadelphia has adopted a new religious exemption policy that allows doctors with objections to certain kinds of care to opt out of their provision, raising questions about the quality of patient care at publicly funded clinics in the city.

Doris Fernandes, a long-time pediatrician with one of the city’s eight health clinics that serve low-income patients, sued the city in 2013, claiming that it fired her for refusing to comply with an initiative to promote the use of emergency contraceptives and long-acting contraceptives in adolescent populations at high risk for unintended pregnancy.

Fernandes, who is Catholic, told the city’s public health department that “participation is strictly forbidden by my religious beliefs and against my conscience,” reports Philadelphia magazine.

The city said that Fernandes was fired for refusing to refer patients who wanted contraceptives to another doctor, for her “lack of empathy,” and for telling one patient who had had an abortion that she had “committed murder.”

Read more»

This is the same city that just this week voted to give its Office of LGBT Affairs permanent, so its capitulation in a matter that could potentially affect the Philadelphia LGBT population, as well as women as a whole, is surprising. After all, if providing contraception is against a doctor's religion, it's not that far of a leap for someone to have religious qualms about providing proper medical care to transgender people or patients with AIDS. The last thing that a patient needs during a clinic visit is to jump through hoops to get an IUD or lifesaving medications.