Dr. Debra Stulberg is an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. Her research focuses on the effect of religiously-sponsored health care on reproductive health, medical decision-making, and the doctor-patient relationship. Dr. Stulberg also is an expert in Medical Ethics and serves as adjunct faculty in the McLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago. Based on her particular clinical and research experience, she has a secondary appointment in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the section of Family Planning & Contraceptive Research at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Dr. Stulberg is the co-director of the Research Consortium on Religious Healthcare Institutions. Dr. Stulberg’s practice is full-scope family medicine with a specific emphasis on reproductive health and maternal child health. Dr. Stulberg has published numerous articles addressing her research on the impact of religion on reproductive health, including:

Medical Ethics and Religious Restrictions on Health Care

mytubethumb play
%3Ciframe%20allowfullscreen%3D%22%22%20frameborder%3D%220%22%20height%3D%22315%22%20src%3D%22https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube-nocookie.com%2Fembed%2FvWd0Jgxo4ao%3Flist%3DPLzMMa0vkftLv--c34vqpR2y9mSQtfDihc%26autoplay%3D1%26version%3D3%22%20width%3D%22560%22%3E%3C%2Fiframe%3E
Privacy statement. This embed will serve content from youtube-nocookie.com

Every doctor learns about medical ethics in medical school, specifically about the importance of informed consent. In this video, Dr. Stulberg explains that a patient must be made aware of all standard of care treatment options, including the risks, benefits and alternatives to each path of treatment for any given health care need. Because doctors at religiously affiliated hospitals and facilities often withhold important information about certain treatment options for religious reasons, patients cannot give informed consent. This denial of information, harms the doctor-patient relationship by preventing the patient from being able to make an informed decision about her own health.

Denial of Contraceptives on Religious Grounds

mytubethumb play
%3Ciframe%20allowfullscreen%3D%22%22%20frameborder%3D%220%22%20height%3D%22315%22%20src%3D%22https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube-nocookie.com%2Fembed%2F1rxc3VpPsOw%3Flist%3DPLzMMa0vkftLv--c34vqpR2y9mSQtfDihc%26autoplay%3D1%26version%3D3%22%20width%3D%22560%22%3E%3C%2Fiframe%3E
Privacy statement. This embed will serve content from youtube-nocookie.com

 

In this video, Dr. Stulberg discusses how Catholic hospitals and health care facilities cannot provide contraception because of religious doctrine. Even though the vast majority of women use birth control at some point in their reproductive lives and most health care professionals consider contraceptives part of standard care for women, doctors at Catholic hospitals and facilities often have to find work-arounds to be able to prescribe birth control to their patients. These under-the-table ways of getting around the rules to get birth control into women’s hands sends the harmful message that birth control for the sake of birth control is not a legitimate medical service.

Denial of Miscarriage Treatment on Religious Grounds

mytubethumb play
%3Ciframe%20allowfullscreen%3D%22%22%20frameborder%3D%220%22%20height%3D%22315%22%20src%3D%22https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube-nocookie.com%2Fembed%2F809DLr93TSc%3Flist%3DPLzMMa0vkftLv--c34vqpR2y9mSQtfDihc%26autoplay%3D1%26version%3D3%22%20width%3D%22560%22%3E%3C%2Fiframe%3E
Privacy statement. This embed will serve content from youtube-nocookie.com
 
In our next video, Dr. Stulberg discusses the heart wrenching experience of doctors in Catholic hospitals who are prohibited by religious restrictions from providing essential care to women who are miscarrying. When doctors are forced to deny or delay treatment or information to a woman losing a pregnancy because of the religious directives governing care in their hospital, it can put patients’ lives in danger. Dr. Stulberg also addresses the question, “aren’t there other hospitals that the patient could go to?” Sometimes there aren’t other hospitals in the area or that are covered by insurance, and the religious hospital is the patient’s only choice.
 
Denial of Tubal Ligations on Religious Grounds
 
mytubethumb play
%3Ciframe%20allowfullscreen%3D%22%22%20frameborder%3D%220%22%20height%3D%22315%22%20src%3D%22https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube-nocookie.com%2Fembed%2FMAHwAaKkDZ0%3Flist%3DPLzMMa0vkftLv--c34vqpR2y9mSQtfDihc%26autoplay%3D1%26version%3D3%22%20width%3D%22560%22%3E%3C%2Fiframe%3E
Privacy statement. This embed will serve content from youtube-nocookie.com
 
In this video, Dr. Stulberg explains a problem that patients face when delivering babies at Catholic hospitals: being denied tubal ligations (tubes tied) at the time of a c-section. Because the tubal ligation procedure is seen as “sterilization,” prohibited under Catholic doctrine, many Catholic hospitals refuse to provide this care even when it is in the patient’s best interest. Doctors may, for a number of sound medical reasons, recommend a patient receive a tubal ligation to prevent future pregnancy. Denying tubal ligation at the time of a c-section means the patient must wait six weeks before returning to a different hospital to obtain the surgery, creating an unnecessary delay and imposing further health risks associated with undergoing additional surgery and anesthesia.

Learn more:

Stay informed

ACLU of Illinois is part of a network of affiliates

Learn more about ACLU National