Catholic Health Care System Fires Physician Assistant Because She’s Pro-Life

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Sep 10, 2020   |   5:00PM   |   Salem, Oregon

A young, Catholic physician assistant who is dedicated to healing and saving lives was fired from her job recently after she refused to help facilitate abortions.

Megan Kreft, of Oregon, shared her story in an extensive interview with the Catholic News Agency. Like a growing number of others in the medical field, she faced workplace discrimination because of her pro-life Catholic beliefs.

Worse, Kreft said her employer was a Catholic health system that she agreed to work for because she believed it would respect and follow the same beliefs that she has about the sanctity of human life.

“I was hopeful that at least my desire to practice medicine consistent with my faith and conscience would be at least tolerated, at a minimum,” she told CNA. “I definitely didn’t think that there was necessarily a need to hold Catholic institutions accountable for being pro-life and Catholic, but I’m hoping to spread awareness.”

Kreft said she began working for Providence Medical Group, a Catholic hospital in Sherwood, Oregon, in 2019 – her first job as a physician assistant. According to the report, the hospital is part of a national Catholic health system called Providence-St. Joseph Health.

She said she was pleased when her employer asked her to sign a document to agree to follow the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services and respect the teachings of the Catholic Church.

However, her first warning sign of trouble came a short time later.

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Kreft said right before she began working, she was given a list of procedures and asked what she would be willing to provide. She said procedures that go against Catholic teachings, including vasectomies, intrauterine device (IUD) insertions and emergency contraception, were on the list.

The situation rapidly grew worse as Kreft began her job.

The interview continued:

Within the first few weeks of work, Kreft said she had a physician recommend that she refer a patient for an abortion. She also found out that the clinic encouraged providers to prescribe hormonal contraception.

Kreft reached out to the clinic’s administration to tell them that she did not plan to participate in or refer for those services.

Later, she said she got in trouble for refusing to refer a patient for emergency contraception. There is strong evidence that some forms of emergency contraception may cause early abortions.

Kreft said the regional medical director accused her of traumatizing the patient and violating the Hippocratic Oath by refusing to provide emergency contraception when the patient asked for it.

“And here I was operating out of love and care for this woman, care for her from a medical and spiritual standpoint,” Kreft said.

Then, in October 2019, Kreft said her bosses insisted that she sign a document promising to refer patients for services that she refused to provide herself. Later, she was given a three-month notice that she would be fired if she did not sign the form, according to the report.

The young woman sought advice from the National Catholic Bioethics Center – something she highly recommends to any Catholic medical worker in a similar situation. She also filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which has been expanding its services to fight employment discrimination against pro-lifers like Kreft.

Kreft was fired, but she said she reached an agreement with Providence through the help of the Thomas More Society, a pro-life Catholic legal group. Part of that settlement included her being able to share her story publicly, according to the report.

“I expected [opposition] in a secular hospital, where my training was, but the fact that it’s occurring within Providence is scandalous. And it’s confusing to patients and their loved ones,” she told CNA. “Not only is the fact that the sanctity of human life being undermined in our Catholic healthcare systems unfortunate— the fact that it’s being promoted and tolerated is unacceptable and frankly scandalous.”

Christian doctors and nurses across the country are facing discrimination like never before. There is increasing pressure for Christian medical professionals to not only assist abortions or perform them — but to refer patients to other people who will kill their unborn children if they refuse to do so.

In 2018, a nurse accused the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington of coercing her into helping with an abortion in violation of her faith. She said the hospital knew she is pro-life, but it tricked her into helping with the elective abortion by telling her it was a miscarriage.