During a conversation with the doctor at Hospital São Camilo, in São Paulo, communicator Leonor Macedo, 41, was informed that the IUD (intrauterine device) insertion procedure could not be carried out there due to the institution’s religious values.
“I was in shock,” said Macedo, who told about the case on X (formerly Twitter). After the report went viral, the institution responded to the publication that, in fact, according to institutional guidelines, the place does not perform contraceptive procedures on both men and women.
“When this is the case, we advise the person to look for the referenced network of their health plan that has this procedure covered”, explained the hospital on the social network.
In addition to the public explanation, Macedo states that she was contacted by the institution by phone, which explained that it was not a gender issue, since men who seek out the hospital for a vasectomy are also not treated.
She was also informed that the hospital would authorize the insertion of the IUD only in serious health cases, such as endometriosis.
In a note to the report, the hospital reaffirms that, as it is a “Catholic denominational institution, its guidelines are not to perform contraceptive procedures, on men or women. Such procedures are carried out in cases that involve risks to the maintenance of life.”
In the document, the institution states that patients who seek out the São Camilo Hospital Network and do not present health risks are advised to search the health plan’s referenced network to find hospitals that have this procedure contracted.
After the report on social media, Macedo says he had difficulty making his story public, as he received criticism from people who approved the hospital’s stance. “It’s tremendous hostility, which makes it difficult for other women to report or denounce what they go through in the clinics,” she says.
The report contacted the Ministry of Health, which informed that it will not comment on the case, since the hospital is private and has no connection with the public network. The São Paulo State Health Department was also contacted, but did not respond until the publication of this report.
For lawyer Henderson Fürst, president of the Bioethics Commission of the OAB-SP (Brazilian Bar Association, São Paulo section), the hospital’s determination is unconstitutional, violates human rights and also violates the freedom of medical professionals.
Fürst explains that the guidance violates the Code of Medical Ethics, which establishes not only the issue of doctor’s autonomy, but also determines that medical professionals must offer their patients the best treatment available. “The right to health also includes the right to family planning,” he says.
“This restriction on the rights of patients and the actions of health professionals is absurd,” he says.
Fürst recalls that family planning is provided for in the Federal Constitution. Finally, this also violates human rights. “The fact that it is a confessional hospital cannot restrict any technique that enables fundamental health rights and that facilitates family planning, which is also a health right, which is also a fundamental right.”
The lawyer also states that religious precepts cannot surpass the precepts of Brazilian health law. “Let’s imagine the opposite. A religion that is against blood transfusions opens a hospital. In that hospital, procedures could only be carried out without blood transfusions? This is a hospital that is doomed to a restriction on the exercise of health science. And it is the that is being done in this case.”
The IUD is a small device that, when inserted into the uterus, prevents fertilization or the attachment of the fertilized egg. There are two types of IUDs on the market, copper and hormonal. In the first case, one of the disadvantages is the possibility of increasing menstrual flow. In the second, it is common for cramps and the flow to decrease.
For Fatima Marinho, researcher at UFMG (Federal University of Minas Gerais) and senior advisor at Vital Strategies, denying women the use of contraceptive methods is a setback. “Modern methods are safe and non-abortive, the need for women or couples to have family planning is a right”, she says.
Marinho points out that, despite the IUD being one of the most effective long-term contraceptive methods, only two out of 100 Brazilian women use the device.
The researcher explains that, in general, there is misinformation about the IUD — one myth is that it would abort. “The modern IUD prevents the fertilization of the egg, in this sense it is not abortive. Religious reasons also weigh in due to the myth of abortion and the belief that one should not use contraceptive methods other than ‘natural’ ones, that is, those that is less effective”, she explains.
Marinho mentions that, over the years, governments have developed health policies to guarantee these rights and promote family planning. As a result, the 2019 National Health Survey showed that more than 80% of women aged between 18 and 49 said they used some form of contraception.
“São Camilo’s attitude echoes the refusal of the Brazilian government in 2019 not to sign the document from the World Health Organization (WHO), which made commitments on the sexual and reproductive health of populations”, she recalls.
The researcher calculates that, even with the high use of contraceptive methods in Brazil, more than half of pregnancies are unplanned or unwanted.
“There are many flaws in the use of short-term methods, such as oral hormonal contraceptives, condoms, diaphragms, charts and emergency contraceptives, because women forget to take the pill, don’t buy one, forget the diaphragm, make mistakes on the chart, among others. reasons,” she says.
For the researcher, the hospital network’s stance contributes to the increase in unwanted pregnancies and abortions induced by unwanted pregnancy, stress and depression, when they deny the use of IUDs or other long-term contraceptive methods.
“The effort to guarantee the right to family planning must be shared by everyone in the health sector. It is not a question of whether or not to implant an IUD out of conviction, but of protecting women’s health”, he says.
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