30 August 2016

Good Question: First, Be Sure of Answer; Second, Act

Lifesite News has published an article with the provocative headline: "Did a Catholic healthcare org just agree to hand out contraception under pressure from the ACLU?". Though there is plenty of smoke in the article, there is no confirmed fire to what would be a major local Catholic news story with national repercussions.

SSM Health has taken over a number of Walgreen's locations and converted them to clinics. Statements by SSM Health spokesmen sure do indicate that contraceptives would still be offered, as they were at Walgreen's:

The joint statement dated August 25 promised “SSM Health will continue to offer the same services that are currently available at Walgreens Healthcare Clinics today.” As for Hartwig-Mekstan, she is quoted in an August 18 story saying, Walgreens clinics “do provide a range of contraceptive services.”

Merrill also was paraphrased in one story as confirming that SSM-run Walgreens clinics will dispense one-month supplies of birth control pills. When questioned further by LifeSiteNews, however, Merrill referred to the joint statement that read, in part, “SSM Health will continue to offer the same services that are currently available at Walgreens Healthcare Clinics today stated.”

As bad as that sounds-- and it sounds bad-- there is no indication in the article that such a practice has begun, and no word on any altering of prior practice based on Catholic teaching.  As such, there is enough for the Archdiocese to investigate. And if contraception is given by an ostensibly Catholic institution, the Archbishop should act decisively. Says the Lifesite article:

The Lepanto Institute’s Hichborn isn’t any more certain than the ACLU about SSM’s intentions. But it if were to supply birth control pills, he said, “the archbishop of St. Louis, Robert Carlson, should order them to cease calling themselves a Catholic organization.”

Actually, no, the proper course is admonition and excommunication.  Hold your breath for that, of course.

If you care, contact information for SSM:

SSM Health, Public Relations
Diane McKillip, Manager, Public Relations
10101 Woodfield Lane, St. Louis, MO 63132
314-989-2119 (office)
314-265-7505 (cell)


dulac90 said...

Don't be naive...no "pressure" from the ACLU is needed. The control of these decisions are the so called ethics boards with NO oversight or auditing by the Archdiocese or USCCB. The administrators want the revenue (and lawsuit avoidance), the patients want the services, and there is no one in the loop to objectively scrutinize.

Why would the results be otherwise?

thetimman said...

Well, that is what the Ordinary is for. Oversight. Governance. Admonition of sinners. Protection from scandal.

The very office designed to stop or at least publicly repudiate and punish such crimes.

Anonymous said...

Just contacted them, we'll see if they bother responding. A quick google shows that they have no problem pointing their employees in the direction of ways to commit crimes that cry out to God for vengence:


"he Affordable Care Act has a provision requiring coverage for birth control. Will ExclusiveChoice begin to cover contraceptive services?

No. Religious institutions such as SSM Health are exempt from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirement regarding contraceptives. SSM Health does not cover contraceptives. However, the ACA makes it possible for ExclusiveChoice members to obtain contraceptive devices, services and products. For information regarding oral medication, call Navitus at 866-333-2757. For information regarding all other contraceptive devices and services, call CoreSource at 800-990-9058."


Anonymous said...

Got a response back:

"Thank you for reaching out as we very much appreciate your feedback and concern. There has been some confusion based on what has been reported in the media and we would like to offer some clarification. SSM Health will only provide a single 30-day refill for medically indicated contraceptive medications originally prescribed by a qualified physician. This is the same (and only contraceptive) service previously provided at Walgreens clinics. We hope this helps clear up any misconceptions that may exist.

Thank you,


thetimman said...

BD, thanks, this is why I didn't want to jump to any conclusions on so serious a topic.

But I will ask, since you have been good enough to do what I did not have time to do-- address the source-- one question:

By "a single" 30 day refill, does she mean that in order to avoid hard feelings and discontinuity they would only once ever give a single 30-day refill (which, though I would oppose shows that they won't continue the practice) or will they give only "a single 30-day refill" whenever someone brings their unique prescription? Because the latter option means: Yes, we will dispense contraception to anyone with a prescription, one month at a time.

Anonymous said...

I asked her something similar and got a reply:

As a Mission-and Values-based Catholic health care system, we are compelled to provide exceptional care and service to every patient, when and where they need it most. That includes hospitals, urgent cares, physician offices and even retail settings, like Walgreens. The Walgreens clinics of which SSM Health is assuming ownership and operational control do not ordinarily provide contraceptive medications. The stated purpose of the clinics is to provide prevention and wellness services and treat low-acuity conditions, minor aches and pains, and skin conditions. On rare occasions, nurse practitioners providing care in the clinics may offer a one-time, 30-day refill for contraception when medically indicated for conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis, Hirsutism, menorrhagia, dysmenorrhea, menstrual migraines and anemia. While not a listed service provided at the clinics, this is meant to serve as a bridge treatment for a present and serious pathology until the woman can see her primary care physician. Importantly, this is also consistent with Catholic teaching as summarized in Directive 53 of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services: “Direct sterilization of either men or women, whether permanent or temporary, is not permitted in a Catholic health care institution. Procedures that induce sterility are permitted when their direct effect is the cure or alleviation of a present and serious pathology and a simpler treatment is not available.”

Again, we thank you for your concern and hope this provides more clarity around this important issue.