Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Birth Control Policies May Change

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Birth Control Policies May Change

Article excerpt

Doctors at St. Francis Health Women's Center may soon gain more freedom from religious restrictions that affect how they prescribe birth control.

St. Francis' current owner, SCL Health, is a Catholic health care system that operates according to ethical and religious directives that guide its policies. Jamie Rempe, an OB/GYN at the Women's Center, said medical providers there expect those directives will change when SCL transfers ownership of the hospital to the University of Kansas Health System and its partner, Ardent Health.

Currently, Rempe said, physicians in their limited liability capacity can practice medicine the way they believe they should, not necessarily following the Catholic directive against promoting or condoning contraception.

"So we are given the option to perform and prescribe almost any form of contraception here," she said.

There are, however, a couple of restrictions. The Nexplanon implant -- a rod inserted in the arm -- sometimes is restricted, Rempe said. Doctors at the Women's Center also are currently unable to place the intrauterine device Paragard, though it isn't often used because there are options that work better, she said.

Those two devices are FDA-approved specifically for contraception, she said, while other options also have FDA approval for medical problems that include heavy or irregular bleeding. Prescription of birth control pills, the Depo-Provera shot, the Mirena IUD and NuvaRing aren't restricted by the religious directive.

"Every time I prescribe a birth control pill, I have to put on that prescription, if it's for contraception reasons, that I am prescribing it under my limited liability capacity," Rempe said. "It separates myself from the institution."

In response to questions, Dennis McCulloch, spokesman for the KU Health System, issued a statement saying the system doesn't have a policy prohibiting providers from prescribing birth control.

"We believe this is a decision that should be made between a patient and her health care provider," the statement said. …

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