So I've got more information on the story I wrote earlier this week. Here's the update:
Most of what I wrote is absolutely true and has been confirmed by one of the OBGYN docs at Columbia St Mary's. A few clarifications are in order. This is my pubic service announcement to women. The Hospitals that will continue to provide full services for all women's health in Milwaukee include Froedert as previously stated, the Aurora Health System Hospitals (closest is West Allis) and Sinai Samaritan in downtown Milwaukee. Hospitals that will now let a woman die in the situation described below are Columbia St-Mary's, St Luke's, St Joseph's, and St Michaels. All serve a majority minority populations and only one is located on the East/Suburban side of town. Now you know where to tell the ambulance to take you.
Eventhough this is a new problem for Milwaukee women, this is not a new problem in the US. In fact, if you go to this link on the ACLU website several reports on the bottom of the page highlight the issue of access to services versus religious refusals quite extensively.
So here's the full scoop on Columbia St Mary's after some investigation and discussions with many people, doctors and women's rights activists in Wisconsin. CSM made a promise when it got approval for the merger, that all current services provided by both hospitals would continue to be offered in the Milwaukee area. Based on that promise, it is pretty much off the radar for women who fight for health care rights in the city. Sometime in the last few months though, CSM changed their mind and made the decision to move the separate women's health clinic (that included the full service OBGYN department) to Ozaukee County. They only told the doctors themselves what was going on from what I can discern.
So these are the implications of this move.
1) Most importantly, CSM-Milwaukee will no longer have a section of the hospital that deals with emergency health services such as I described below.
2) Many routine women's health services are now banned by the hospital. This means that tubal ligations, IUD insertions and emergency contraception will no longer be allowed to be performed/prescribed or even discussed as options by any doctors in the hospital. Rape and incest victims will not be offered EC and as it was put to me. Doctors just won't even mentioned that the services even exist. "They just won't talk about it at all."
3) For doctors who feel absolutely obligated to provide some of these services including birth control pills, Depo Provera, etc... They must set up a separate Limited Liability Corporation complete with separate prescription pads and addresses to dispense and perform these services. The doctors have been assured that their Medical Malpractice insurance covers these services by CSM who negotiates the policies, but are unsure how that can be since the hospital has disallowed them from providing the services and doesn't even allow their name to be attached to the billing, etc... In other words, they are in the same situation as the people in New Orleans who bought hurricane insurance and were told they weren't covered because flooding did the damage. Until it's tested in a court of law, no one really knows if their policy will cover the Med Mal...not exactly incentive to go that route and only a few of the doctors are taking the chance.
Let me give you an example of how damaging this will be to women. A woman has 5 kids and is about to give birth to her 6th. She does not want any more children. She asks the doctor at CSM-Milwaukee what birth control options are available. Most doctors will not mention the majority of options available to the woman. IF the doctor has set up and LLC they may tell the woman about all of the options, but will not be able to provide them all at the Milwaukee clinic. They may have another office for putting in IUD's and giving out birth control, but suppose they mention tubal ligation as an option because she is planning a c-section birth and it's quite simple and safe to perform during the c-section birth. A c-section can only be performed at a hospital, not in a clinic or office, so the doctor only has priviledges at CSM facilities. The doctor's options are to tell her to get another doctor with Froedert, Sinai or Aurora priviledges and deliver at one of those hospitals; tell her she must have two surgeries significantly more dangerous; or tell her she has to drive to Ozaukee County CSM to deliver her baby so the same doctor can perform the tubal and the c-section at the same time. This is a significant dilemna for many Milwaukee women! Transportation to Ozaukee is via freeway only, family and friends may not be able to travel to visit her in the hospital, changing doctors mid-pregnancy is unthinkable to me as a mother of three, and two surgeries instead of one seems an unthinkable, dangerous and outrageous solution to the problem!
Here is the hypocrisy. CSM Milwaukee WILL perform hysterctomies on women without questioning the reason. OBGYN's call a hysterectomy the "Catholic Birth Control" and you can be that the number of unnecessary radical hysterectomies at CSM are going to rise. This is an extreme procedure that removes the entire uterus and women are getting it every day because religious hospitals refuse to clip small tubes. Women who have hysterectomies are doomed to a lifetime of hormone replacement therapy and many other medical problems that are entirely avoidable if tubal ligations are allowed.
I wrote a piece last week on John Gibson's white supremacist rant on CNN a few weeks ago. My guess is he would certainly support this merger and shift of services. If fits his agenda.
Milwaukee's women are in danger and must speak up! This will not be allowed to happen in silence and without comment.
Finally, I received a comment on my last post on this subject that not only don't I understand, but from what I think they are saying, it deserves a front and center response.
Here is the original comment:
Is it possible that family friendly areas are not as likely to develop in areas that are strongly pro-abortion? That political and demographic trend seems to be increasingly borne out in the US.
Here is my response:
Not sure what you mean by "family friendly areas" having anything to do with as you put it "pro-abortion" areas. The East side of Milwaukee is one of the family friendliest places in the United States and having a full service clinic for women has never discouraged families. In my scenario, the woman dies. How is that family friendly? I have to take issue with you even using the term "pro-abortion". In my lifetime, I've never met anyone who is "pro-abortion". Allowing a woman and her doctor to decide the best care for a particular situation has nothing to do with being pro-abortion.
I am pro-life. Most anti-choice advocates are only pro-birth. If they cared about the life of the child, they would support everything from welfare to job training to school lunches to comprehensive and quality education guaranteed through college to gay marriage and adoption and the environment as ways to improve the LIVES of the children who do come into this world instead of selfishly caring about their own tax cuts.
One more update. The clinic that was turned down by Shorewood was licensed just a suburb up. Apparently their planning commission has a bit more foresight than ours.