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A report in the Feb. 18 Journal Times outlined a disturbing new All Saints hospital policy, one which will prohibit women at its facilities from getting tubal ligations — a form of permanent birth control commonly called “getting your tubes tied.”

According to multiple sources within the hospital, the policy takes effect in July.

The hospital itself would not confirm the July date, but sent a statement saying: “As a matter of policy, Ascension abides by the ethical and religious directives for Catholic health care services and does not provide direct sterilizations.”

Businesses in general should be able to make their own business decisions. But when that decision affects the health and well-being of thousands in the community, that is concerning. In this case, that new policy will affect the entire community.

In Racine, Ascension All Saints is the only option in town for having babies. Yes, patients could go to Kenosha to give birth. But for a lot of people, that travel for appointments would not be convenient because of work commitments, time constraints or transportation issues.

Others are also limited to where they can go by their health insurer.

Therefore, if Ascension says no to tubal ligations, many don’t have a choice — particularly if they were looking to have the procedure while in the hospital after a delivery or immediately after a C-section, which is a common time for tubal ligations to be performed.

The Journal Times Editorial Board has advocated for individual health providers being able to make their own decisions. For instance, if a pharmacist doesn’t feel comfortable filling a birth control prescription for moral reasons, then that pharmacist shouldn’t be forced to do so. In those cases, another pharmacist should be able to step in and fill the prescription for the patient.

Similarly, doctors shouldn’t be forced to conduct a procedure they don’t feel comfortable with morally. But the patient should have the option of going to another doctor at the same facility. That is not the case under Ascension’s new policy.

It’s a policy decision that Ascension should reverse before it goes into effect in July.

There are numerous reasons for a woman to get her tubes tied. She could be considered high-risk, in that another pregnancy could put her life and the baby’s life in jeopardy. Also, the woman and her family may not be able to afford another child and want the tubal ligation as a precaution.

Regardless of the reason, the woman should be able to make this decision with her doctor.

Meanwhile, while women will not be allowed to make their own decisions on tubal ligations, reportedly Ascension has not changed its policy on vasectomies, meaning men will still have the ability to opt for a permanent contraceptive procedure. That makes no sense.

Ascension also should have been more upfront about its decision. Many pregnant women due after July are already seeing doctors for prenatal appointments. Mothers-to-be need such information when choosing a health care provider. Without the Journal Times report, many would have been left in the dark.

In addition, Racine health care providers still don’t know how it’s all going to roll out. Other Ascension hospitals have formed ethics committees to review tubal ligation requests. Other hospitals have allowed doctors to go to off-site locations for tubal ligations. But there is no word on whether those options will be available here.

Ascension needs to provide answers to the public. Better still, it needs to rethink this policy change.


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