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Research study

Ethical Issues

- return to the Research Consortium on Religious Healthcare Institutions

How is the Church “allowed” to pick and choose what type of care to provide?

Answer: Most Catholic healthcare facilities follow the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare Services (ERDs) and are protected under the law through “conscience causes” that allow both individual healthcare providers and healthcare institutions as a whole not to provide certain standard medical services for reasons of religion or conscience.

Background:The ERDs, or Directives, are written by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as policies for care in all Catholic health institutions. The Directives lay out what is not permitted and what must require special interpretation and approval by an ethics committee. Sterilization, contraception, abortion, and some forms of miscarriage management are prohibited, among other things. Conscience clause laws largely pertain to religious institutions the same way that they pertain to individuals, namely, whole institutions can claim a religious freedom exemption from providing particular services or referrals for services anywhere within their facilities.

Resources:

Visit our resources page for a list of media articles and publications on how religious directives impact reproductive healthcare decisions.

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ANSIRH is a program within the UCSF Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health and is a part of UCSF's Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences.

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