A study released by the University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus in September reveals training shortcomings for OB/GYN medical residents at Catholic and other religious hospitals that were mainly Christian based.
Eleven percent of all accredited OB/GYN residencies occur in these faith-based hospitals that restrict abortion and family planning training, according to the study.
As a result, residents often leave with incomplete medical training, which can be dangerous for patients seeking standard medical procedures from these professionals.
The lack of training included inadequate instruction on postpartum tubal ligations, a type of female sterilization done right after giving birth; abortion; copper intrauterine device (IUD) insertion, a non-hormonal birth control procedure; and an insufficient number of dilation and curettages (D&Cs), a type of procedure to diagnose and treat uterine issues.
Some of the Catholic hospitals surveyed did not provide adequate training for copper IUDs because the Catholic Church views this contraceptive method as an abortion-inducing drug, despite evidence otherwise.
Copper IUDs work by producing copper ions, as well as inducing the uterus lining to produce its own secretion, both of which act as spermicide. These IUDs are crucial for people who cannot use hormonal contraceptives for medical reasons, and they are an effective, long-term, reversible form of birth control.
Additionally, of the hospitals surveyed, “almost half reported they were noncompliant with abortion training requirements” and “one-third of Catholic programs cited poor sterilization training.”
According to the study, Catholic hospitals were also “less likely than other restrictive faith-based sites to perform abortions for indications like rape/incest or fetal anomalies.”
When asked about the potential consequences of this inadequate training, Dr. Maryam Guiahi, MD, an author of the study, suggested that the shortcomings could have tangible effects on patients.
“When providers are not adequately trained they may not reach competency with procedures including those for miscarriage management and counseling,” Guiahi told the Colorado Times Recorder in a statement. “It’s also possible that they are not aware of guidelines or do not offer full spectrum care to patients because of their lack of training.”
The study suggested that these training shortcomings could be solved with collaborations between religious hospitals and family planning programs. In Denver, the Saint Joseph residency program and the University of Colorado program have already teamed up to accomplish this.
Colorado Times Recorder reached out to Susan Sutherland, Director of Colorado Right to Life, an anti-abortion advocacy group, to see what she thought of the study.
“While there seems to be disdain for the lack of comprehensive family planning at Catholic (and other religious) hospitals and for the restrictions on ‘reproductive services’, I find the percentages of proficiency in these categories appalling and unacceptable in any hospital which upholds Jesus Christ as Lord,” said Sutherland. “But from a worldly perspective, this study should be viewed as exceedingly comical except that is was an utter waste of time. Hey, let’s waste a bunch of money and resources to determine that religious-based hospitals don’t particularly care for abortion and sterilization.”
The study was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.