When abortion means your doctor won't see you anymore

Katherine - posted on 12/16/2010 ( 87 moms have responded )

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I am pro-life, but this story caught my eye because it's so bizarre.

Imagine getting a call from your doctor's office. They're kicking you out of their practice.

Your insurance is still good, but the doc ... well, he's pissed because you pierced your ears.

Without consulting him.

Sound bogus?

Well try this one on for size: RH Reality Check took a little tour through middle America and came up with a host of stories of women whose doctors have cut them off because they made a personal decision outside of his or her office.

They had an abortion.

How dare I compare something so serious to something so simple?

Because they are, at the heart, personal decisions. LEGAL personal decisions. And both could somehow have medical implications down the road, or could not.

And both were performed by another practitioner, leaving your doctor no responsibility for the act or its results.

So why would one get people indignant, the other start a war? For the same reason doctors are kicking patients out the door for exercising their freedom of choice.

Here's where it gets particularly tricky: even doctors have freedom of choice, especially in private practice. They can see whomever they wish. That means saying no to your double pierced ears and your empty uterus alike.

But allow one ... and you allow the other.

In taking the Hippocratic oath, a caregiver vows to "first do no harm." Turning away patients in rural America is burdening them with a sometimes impossible task -- finding another caregiver.

Trust me. I live half an hour from my doctor's office. On a good day. When I have to see a specialist, tack another half hour to two on to that. One way. When it isn't snowing.

I'm blessed to have a car to drive there, insurance that will allow me to see a larger range of doctors than the average Medicaid patient, and a job that grants me sick leave.

Now try telling a woman with none of those options she has to find another doctor simply because he's pissed that she didn't keep a baby he wasn't going to provide for.

Who is doing "no harm" here?

Has your doctor ever judged you for your lifestyle choices?

http://thestir.cafemom.com/healthy_livin...

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Johnny - posted on 12/16/2010

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I'm not disagreeing with the idea that a physician may have the right to refuse a non-emergent patient. And I do think it would likely be more problematic to be seen by a doctor who is significantly biased against you. Perhaps even dangerous in some cases.





But I'm wondering where we draw the line? Where does the law draw the line? If a physician can refuse to treat a patient who had a legal procedure that they happen to disagree with, that is fairly broad.



Some physicians are opposed to stem cell research, could they drop a patient who received that treatment for parkinson's?



Other physicians may be opposed to IVF? Should a cardiac surgeon be refusing to treat a woman who had her children that way? What about refusing to treat a man whose children were conceived in that manner?



Then there are physicians who are firmly opposed to those who choose not to vaccinate. What do we do with pediatricians who refuse to treat those children?



I'm just wondering how we decide which moral issues are legitimate? I've heard of doctors firing patients who refuse to quit smoking....what about those who refuse to stop drinking pop? This seems like a huge landmine issue to me.

Krista - posted on 12/16/2010

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Joy, I'm just yanking your chain. :) I knew what you meant.

And no, of course we know that doctors are human beings. And yes, I would probably rather know that my doctor disapproves of me, rather than receive substandard care and not know why (or worse, not know it at all.)

However, in my mind, the fact remains that any one of us who works with the public is required to deal with people who offend us. A banker has customers who are irresponsible financial fuckups. A waitress who lost her brother to cancer has to serve a customer who reeks of cigarette smoke. A lawyer has to defend a white supremacist.

Nobody is saying that medical professionals aren't allowed to have feelings. However, inherent in the word "professional" is the assumption that this person will be able to set their feelings aside, suck it up, and do their damn JOB to the best of their ability.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 12/16/2010

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I understand what you are saying Mary, I do want a competant, and a compassonate Dr. What I don't find appropriate is refusal of care becouse of a personnal decision that had nothing to do with that said Dr. I believe a line needs to be drawn somewhere. Can a Dr refuse a patient due to religion, color, or sexual preference? Or perhaps they had a threesome in college involving the same sex? I just feel this is extreme.

Krista - posted on 12/16/2010

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And I think this comes back to the entire question of whether or not healthcare is one of those things that should really be part of the "free market"? I still maintain that a for-profit, capitalist model of healthcare is intrinsically immoral as it allows for the possibility of profits being chosen over peoples' lives.

Mary - posted on 12/17/2010

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Krista, judges and lawyers are expected to recuse themselves from cases where strong personal feelings or convictions could affect their ability to remain impartial.

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Meghan - posted on 12/17/2010

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@ Jenn...lol, I don't think I am articulating my point the way I want. Oh well..MOOO

Jenn - posted on 12/17/2010

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@Mehan - but they are private - that's what I'm saying. Just because the government run insurance program covers the majority of us, doesn't mean that they are not a private practice. It's no different than in the States if they billed XYZ Insurance Company. Anyway, I know that's not the point of this post - I just like to inform people of this fact that is so widely misunderstood. And I also had a giggle at the MOO hehehehe!!!

Dana - posted on 12/17/2010

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Moo...lol been hanging out with the kids too much today, Meghan? hehe

Meghan - posted on 12/17/2010

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what Mary is saying is the point I was trying to make with my blubbering...plus I haven't really vented about it in a while and it felt good.
I just personally don't feel any sort of personal opinion should enter into medical care.
There was a complaint made...formally by my lawyer (who my mom works for-mommy was FURIOUS...lol)
All I meant by government employed is that most aren't private. Most bill the government rather than patients...therefore those doctors should have to abide by the health act plan (If we were talking Canada...which we arent so it's actually a moo point) :)

Krista - posted on 12/17/2010

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And really, it shouldn't be tolerated. Which I suppose was my point in the first place. :) I think we both agree, but i'm just being a little more pie-in-the-sky about the whole thing, whereas you're more closely connected to the reality on the ground.

Mary - posted on 12/17/2010

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Yeah, the scenario I described would NOT go over well where I worked. If I had witnessed that, I'd be calling both my nurse manager and the chief of OB, and that doc would be spoken to. I'm not saying they would lose their privileges, but it's not behavior that would be tolerated.

Krista - posted on 12/17/2010

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I guess I'm a little more used to a lot of the old-school male doctors, who wouldn't know emotional support if it jumped up and bit them in the arse. :) So being spoken to brusquely by a doctor really doesn't faze me, but I can see how some people would be looking for a more compassionate approach.

Mary - posted on 12/17/2010

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No, you're right, they can treat them medically without liking or approving of them. I guess my issue comes in unnecessary, but (to me) equally important component of compassion or emotional support.

For example - an OB who is radically pro-life has a patient who has history of two prior abortions. The patient is now in a committed relationship, with a much desired pregnancy. At 18 weeks, she goes in for a routine visit, and there is no heartbeat. She is heartbroken. Her OB schedules her for an induction the next day, and is there to deliver her at two am the next night, and performs a D&C when the placenta is retained. The patient sees and holds her perfectly formed fetus, but is crying inconsolably and asks "Is this a punishment for my abortions?" and her OB replies "Well, I can see how you would come to that conclusion" and goes home for the night.

Now, the OB did his job. He provided her with the necessary medical care. Even the response to her question wasn't a breach of any kind of ethics...there was just no compassion or sympathy.

Krista - posted on 12/17/2010

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That's true, Mary. But does a doctor HAVE to be utterly impartial in order to do his job? My example of judges and lawyers was probably a poor one. A judge's job is to judge impartially. A doctor's job is to treat a patient medically, so I don't see why they have to remain perfectly and utterly impartial. I just think that their professionalism should come before those particular feelings.

Cheryl - posted on 12/17/2010

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True, however, medical practice is not the same as law. The relationship is not the same. Compassion in law may or may not be there, but with a personal family physician, it must be there. A good personal doctor needs to care, to be inspired to help this patient. A lawyer can practice law without needing that inspiration, although an inspired attorney is a blessing!

Cheryl - posted on 12/17/2010

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Medicine is not the same as construction, or plumbing, or architecture.
Medicine requires a somewhat personal relationship with a patient.
We've all heard of doctors who practice while intoxicated, we know that is bad because it inhibits their ability and judgement.
This doctor is saying, by refusing to practice on that patient who had the abortion,
"I have lost the ability to be objective or to think clearly with this patient. This patient needs to find another doctor. I admit my strong belief system will not allow me to see her as worthy of my very best."
I wish every doctor was as honest, how many doctors don't give their best for whatever reason and never tell the patient?

Katherine - posted on 12/17/2010

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For example say your psychiatrist prescribed you certain meds. You decided to switch so you had your PCP prescribe different ones. That would be stepping on your shrinks toes.
What if he wanted to "counsel" you? Or make a recommendation? It had nothing to do with his beliefs. As your doctor he wanted to know about it. Did he have a right? Maybe.....
Yes, Krista that's what I mean. A procedure done years ago, well obviously he's letting his personal emotions get in the way.

Krista - posted on 12/17/2010

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Katherine, do you mean that he'd be pissed that you went behind his back for a medical procedure? What if the abortion had been years before even starting to see that doctor?

Like Meghan said, lawyers and judges are expected to set their personal feelings aside and work a case based on its merits. I see no reason why we should not expect the same level of professionalism from medical personnel. My mom was a nurse for the VON, a nursing organization in Canada that takes care of seniors and does home nursing visits for them. She had some patients whom she absolutely LOATHED. Some of them were just assholes. Some of them were sexist. Some of them were filthy slobs. She always dreaded those visits, but she would still go into their homes and she would be pleasant with them, and bath them, and check their meds, and deal with their colostomy bags, and cut their gnarly toenails. She did her job, and she did it well, regardless of her feelings for her patient. Did she linger, and make a lot of small talk with them, and give them a Christmas card? Hell, no. But while she was there, she did her job and she focused on the person's health, not their personality.

Dana - posted on 12/17/2010

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What do you mean by "you stepped on his toes", in what manner would you be stepping on his toes?

Katherine - posted on 12/17/2010

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What about this: The doctors not pissed because you had the abortion, he's pissed because you stepped on his toes.

Jenn - posted on 12/17/2010

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@Meghan Anger - first of all, I'm sorry that you were treated so rudely by someone who you felt you could trust - a Doctor! But I would definitely file a complaint with the College of Physicians and Surgeons 1-800-268-7096 ext. 615. Also, just in case you missed my post above yours - Doctors in Canada are NOT government employees - this is a common misconception about our healthcare system.

Ez - posted on 12/17/2010

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There are four doctors in my practice. I'm sure they have wildly different opinions about some thing. For example, one is very good at handling addicts. He has a lot of compassion and goes out of his way to help them (sometimes to the point of being a pushover). But another is very strict and not so sympathetic to their plights. They clearly have very different approaches to the same problem, even within the same practice.

Tracey - posted on 12/17/2010

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Do your doctors work individually or in practices with several others?
My doctor told me when I was pregnant that she would not refer me if I wanted an abortion but that she would transfer me to another doctor in the same practice who would refer me for an abortion.

Ez - posted on 12/17/2010

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Yeah it absolutely does. I also think a doctor who would refuse to treat a woman based on a prior abortion is an ass. Just as the doctor who dismissed and humiliated you was an ass. The difference is, one did it legally, and yours did not. You really should have made a complaint about that. We get complaints for far less!

Meghan - posted on 12/17/2010

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Yea, I understand what you are saying Erin-mine is an extreme *edit* case. I just feel like an abortion would be traumatic enough. Then to be totally written off when you need help...I am in NO way comparing what happened to me to the feelings of someone who chose to abort. I guess I am just empathetic towards someone who is trying to get help and being judged...does that make any sense? lol

Ez - posted on 12/17/2010

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Meghan, what happened to you would certainly justify a complaint where I work. That is unacceptable. But it is my understanding that this doctor simply refused to continue care of this woman. If he had berated her like your doctor did you (called her a murderer, told her she was going to hell etc etc) he would be very much in violation of his code of ethics.

Meghan - posted on 12/17/2010

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what happens if you have your nipple or vag pierced??

Me and my ex had a really rocky relationship to begin with but after I had my son I was diagnosed with a mild anxiety disorder (by the same doctor who saw me through the whole pregnancy...and although he never came right out and said it, I don't think he thought highly of my ex.) I was put on mild anti-depressants...3 weeks later I was kicked out of my house with my son (8 months old at the time.) I was even more of a basket case than before and a month or so later tried to find a new doctor to refill my prescription in the town I moved to (before that I had started seeing a councilor aswell.) I made an appointment with one, and had my file transfered. She took one look at it and asked me why I was so "stressed out and needed to be medicated" I briefly gave her a run down of the situation. She then TORE into me about taking medication that I didn't need, about running away from my responsibilities and family, that being a single mother wasn't "that hard..she has done it for 15 years" and told me that I needed to meditate and find my faith then walked out of the room.
I have never felt like more of a loser in my life. She was a government paid doctor (most are in Canada.) Maybe it is because I live in a country that has universal health care and it is written in our constitution that everyone is entitled to just and quality care, but I just DO NOT understand how a personal bias can over ride anyone's well being. Doctor's should not be able to bring a personal perspective into their office, just like defense lawyers and judge can't express a personal opinion on a case. These people took an oath to help the sick and thats what they should do. They may not agree with life style choices, or previous medical decisions, but when it comes down to someone sitting right there-in that moment, they should be able to objectively offer advise and guidance/support.

Jenn - posted on 12/16/2010

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Mary Neidich said: "the difference is that here in America, MOST physicians are not gov't employees - they are self-employed" Actually that is not true. Doctors in Canada are NOT employed by the government. They are a business and operate as such. When a Doctor opens up a practice they have to pay their building fees (rent, mortgage, etc.) and pay their employees and all of their bills out of the money they make. While we may not pay the Doctor out of our pocket, they are paid through OHIP (in Ontario) which stands for Ontario Health Insurance Program - it is insurance just like you would pay for in the USA. So they are not paid by the government in the form of a paycheck - they receive money from a government run insurance program. If someone lets their OHIP card expire or if you are from out of country or whatever, then you would be billed and you pay the Doctor.

Anyway, I think it's pretty messed up that a Doctor would dump a patient for a reason like that. I'm sure a lot of people have things in their past that they've done - does that mean that Doctor wouldn't treat them also?

Dana - posted on 12/16/2010

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There's a big difference between figure skaters who dislike each other and doctors who think you've killed an innocent child. Not that I agree with them...I'm just saying...

Krista - posted on 12/16/2010

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Exactly, Emma. BOTH are unprofessional. And while humanity in a doctor is admirable, unprofessionalism is not.

A friend of mine in university was a competitive figure skater. He said that most figure skating pair couples either hate each others' guts, or are sleeping together.

If the ones who hate each others' guts can manage to put that aside, and skate beautifully, and convey deep passion for each other for a 3-minute routine, then surely a doctor can put aside his disdain, and concern himself with the person's health for a 3-minute office visit.

Ez - posted on 12/16/2010

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Emergent care is something completely different. If a person walks in off the street, never having been a patient of our surgery before, and is having a heart attack, our doctors must treat them. It has happened. For this reason, when there is no clinical staff in the building during lunch we have to lock the door to protect ourselves from liability. As a medical secretary with just basic first aid, if someone comes in with an emergency I can not turn them away.

Dana - posted on 12/16/2010

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Eh, I doubt someone wouldn't be able to find another doctor to be their GP in their town or one near by. Like Mary said, this isn't emergent care we're talking about.

Ez - posted on 12/16/2010

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Refusing service is not what makes them less professional. If they were to continue to treat a patient and offered substandard care based on personal opinion, THAT would be unprofessional. I think that's the point some of us were making.

Krista - posted on 12/16/2010

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But at least then the choice would be YOURS, Dana. Some people, if no other doctors are available, would rather have contemptuous medical care than no medical care at all. Others would rather say, "Screw you, you judgmental prat", and take their chances. But I do think that the choice should be the patient's and that the patient SHOULD be able to contact the medical licensing body and file a formal complaint about the doctor's lack of professionalism.

Mrs. - posted on 12/16/2010

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Yes, I understand the idea of doctor shortages. I'm not saying it's right but if that is the case, it may be time to look for a new community. I mean, I'm not sure hateful, forced service from a doc would be better than no service. The patients might have to make their voice heard by leaving the community or travelling a great distance/encouraging others to travel out of protest. May not sound realistic but to me it does not sound realistic to force a doc who feels that strongly about it to serve you. Yeah, it's wrong but the reality of human nature is that when forced to do something you strongly disagree with you tend to not do it well. That will most likely not change no matter what laws are passed...weeding the docs who perhaps should not have a big practice out by not choosing to frequent them might be more realistic.

Dana - posted on 12/16/2010

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Okay, so say they can't remove you as a patient, then you've got a doctor who has no respect for you, how well do you think he's going to pay attention or take care of you. I'd rather he ditched me as a patient then kept it secret and treated me like crap, professionally.

Katherine - posted on 12/16/2010

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Nobody is saying that medical professionals aren't allowed to have feelings. However, inherent in the word "professional" is the assumption that this person will be able to set their feelings aside, suck it up, and do their damn JOB to the best of their ability.


Thank you!!!!!

Krista - posted on 12/16/2010

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That's very possible, Rebecca. However, the assumption that the free market will weed out those doctors doesn't take into account the fact that a lot of places, especially rural communities, have doctor shortages.

So for some people, it's either "that" doctor, or no doctor at all. And if a lone doctor in a remote rural community dumps a patient due to a past abortion, he very well may be forcing that woman to go without routine medical care altogether. If the patient has a chronic condition such as asthma or diabetes, this could be particularly problematic.

Mrs. - posted on 12/16/2010

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I. too, would look at it as their responsibility to tell me. If a doc really can't get over themselves to treat me, I don't want that doc treating me. I'd rather I be told than to get sub-par care or worse have a doc try to convert me to their beliefs about my personal choice. I'd probably look at it as dodging a bullet, that could make for an awkward conversation when you are half naked on the table.

May I also say that my gay brother has not been refused service but he has gotten the stink eye/brush off from some docs when he's been honest about his sexual preference/sex life (which you have to be with your doc to get proper care). He's ditched docs for this reason. There's no point in supporting these people's practices. Eventually, they may find their practice suffering because of their moral standpoints.

Stifler's - posted on 12/16/2010

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I agree with Jenny, it's seriously unprofessional to judge people on their choices unless abuse is involved. I used to look after old people and I did not agree with them smoking when they had asthma, eating extra biscuits when they weighed over 100kg, etc. but it's not my place to judge how they lived their lives and it's not a doctor's either.. the nursing home was their home and they're entitled to live how they want to. Nobody makes the decision to get an abortion lightly. It might be their right to refuse care but it's not professional and I wouldn't recommend a doc like that to anyone.

Jenny - posted on 12/16/2010

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I don't even think of it as a provider's right, but rather their RESPONSIBILITY to tell a patient to find another doc if they themselves are unable to provide unbiased, compassionate care.

I see it the provider's responsibilty to find another profession if they are unable to provide unbiased, compassionate care. If you are bothered by certain medical procedures, perhaps medicine is not the right field for you.

Ez - posted on 12/16/2010

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Really Kate? That would not fly here...

Marina I agree, if the cashier said it, since they are not the business owner, it would be totally out of line.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 12/16/2010

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Erin, you are reading too much into the last post. I was being funny, but now that you bring it up, i was actually referring to the cashier, not a small store owner...what if it was a chain, like wal-mart, cvs, or a grocery store and the hired cashier said this? It would be totally embarrassing.

Ez - posted on 12/16/2010

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Marina, that's not a fair comparison. If a store owner disagreed with those things, they would be well within their rights not to stock them. But a cashier couldn't refuse to sell them.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 12/16/2010

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How embarrassing would it be to go up to checkout in a store with condoms, k-y jelly etc and the cashier tells you "I am sorry, I can't sell you these products. My religion does not believe in birth control".

[deleted account]

NO Krista! Not those knuckles!!! I don't like that game either! I meant knuckles, like....kinda like a high five except you touch knuckles....not hard lol Just a gentle "meeting of the fists" to say "right on" lol



Added: Like, whenever Steve's friends come over and watch football, if one team scores a touchdown, the guys all bump knuckles. When they leave, Jacob HAS to give them all knuckles (instead of a handshake lol).

Shauna - posted on 12/16/2010

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But i do agree with the last post you made marina- on the disclaimer ------- feelings could def be hurt by a dr walking away after disclosing such information.

Shauna - posted on 12/16/2010

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My OBGYN will not prescribe birth control to anyone b/c of her religious beliefs. But she tells everyone that comes to her upfront, i was ok with that b/c i never plan on being on BC. I dont think its that big of a deal that the Dr doesnt want this patient. Maybe its something they feel strongly about and cant bring themself to talk about it? When your working with human beings there is alot of emotion that goes into the job, Its not like the women can get care she just had to find a different Dr.

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