Yet she’d had the clarity to drive straight to the nearest emergency room—Good Samaritan Hospital in Lebanon, Pennsylvania—to ask for a rape kit and talk to a sexual assault counselor. “I haven’t gotten the nerve up to go, for fear of being judged again,” she says.

doctor patient dating laws-6

Lori Boyer couldn’t stop trembling as she sat on the examining table, hugging her hospital gown around her. She’d been raped hours earlier by a man she knew—a man who had assured Boyer, 35, that he only wanted to hang out at his place and talk.

Instead, he had thrown her onto his bed and assaulted her. She tried vainly to hold back tears as she reasoned with the doctor: She was midcycle, putting her in danger of getting pregnant.

“I’m done with you,” he’d tonelessly told her afterward. Emergency contraception is most effective within a short time frame, ideally 72 hours. “It’s against my religion,” he said, according to Boyer. First the rape, and then the doctor making me feel powerless.” Later that day, her rape counselor found Boyer a physician who would prescribe her EC.

Boyer had grabbed her clothes and dashed for her car in the freezing predawn darkness. He was a trim, middle-aged man with graying hair and, Boyer thought, an aloof manner. If he wasn’t willing to write an EC prescription, she’d be glad to see a different doctor. (When contacted, the doctor declined to comment for this article.) Boyer left the emergency room empty-handed. But Boyer remained haunted by the ER doctor’s refusal—so profoundly, she hasn’t been to see a gynecologist in the two and a half years since.

And too often, the victims of this practice are women.” Compared with the highly publicized issue of pharmacists who refuse to dispense birth control and emergency contraception, physician refusals are a little-discussed topic.

Patients denied treatment rarely complain—the situation tends to feel so humiliatingly personal.

And when patients do make noise, the case is usually resolved quietly.

That’s exactly what’s happening in medical offices and hospitals around the country: Catholic and conservative Christian health care providers are denying women a range of standard, legal medical care. D.s report patients coming to them because other gynecologists would not dole out birth control prescriptions or abortion referrals.

Infertility clinics have turned away lesbians and unmarried women; anesthesiologists and obstetricians are refusing to do sterilizations; Catholic hospitals have delayed ending doomed pregnancies because abortions are only allowed to save the life of the mother.