Religious healthcare systems and the impact on sexual and reproductive health service delivery in the Chicago metropolitan area, Phase 2
Abortion, Contraception
Awarded 2017
Interdisciplinary Innovation (Phase 2) Grants
Debra Stulberg, MD
University of Chicago

Religious hospitals control a growing share of healthcare in the US. In Catholic hospitals, clinicians must follow the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare Services, which restrict provision of contraception, abortion, sterilization, and fertility treatment. Reproductive health policies in other (non-Catholic) religious hospitals are less well understood. In Chicago, two of the three largest health systems are religious: one Roman Catholic, and one Protestant. We will conduct qualitative interviews with women’s healthcare providers, ethics committee members, administrators, and hospital policy-makers in these two systems to understand religious restrictions to care, including issues of transparency, enforcement, and patient and clinician communication. We will also use interviews within and outside these two hospital systems to explore implementation of a new Illinois law designed to ensure religious refusals are balanced by patients’ rights to access information and referrals. Finally, we will measure the impact of religious restrictions on Medicaid insured women in the Chicago area and assess whether these restrictions disproportionately affect women in specific zip codes or demographic groups. Findings from this study will provide patients and policy-makers in our region with needed information to make sound healthcare decisions. They will also be relevant to other regions of the country where religious healthcare continues to expand.