Oops, I accidentally pulled out your IUD!

So says an anti-contraception nurse in New Mexico, who is being sued by a patient.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

Published January 22, 2009 11:00AM (EST)

Let me tell you a true story: A woman in Albuquerque, N.M., went to a local health clinic to have the long string of her IUD shortened. No big deal -- all it takes is a simple snip. The nurse prodded her with a speculum and then, inexplicably, began pulling on the IUD, causing her sudden, intense pain. Then the nurse said one thing you never want someone to say when they have their hand in your vagina: "Uh-oh!"

Surely, the patient must have been terrified -- but then the nurse offered an explanation: "I accidentally pulled out your IUD. I gently tugged and out it came ... I cut the string than went back and gently pulled and out it came. It must have not been in properly." That might have been somewhat reassuring -- oh well, accidents happen -- only, the nurse continued to explain that "having the IUD come out was a good thing" and then offered, "I personally do not like IUDs. I feel they are a type of abortion. I don't know how you feel about abortion, but I am against them."

Hmm. The nurse continued: "Everyone in the office always laughs and tells me I pull these out on purpose because I am against them, but it's not true, they accidentally come out when I tug." Kidding about removing patients' birth control against their will? Hilarious -- sign me up for a visit to your office! Also: It's happened enough times that you have a reputation for it? Despite this being her "mistake," the nurse refused to insert a new IUD.

This is all according to court documents filed by the patient in a suit against nurse practitioner Sylvia Olona and Presbyterian Medical Services. The patient suspects, for good reason, it seems, that the nurse intentionally pulled out the IUD because of her personal belief that they cause abortions. Not that it matters in this case, but that is factually incorrect. (Also, as Miriam Axel-Lute writes on Babble, "So the way she's against abortion is to screw up people's birth control, making it more likely they need an abortion? Swift one there.")

This story seems a good, although frightening, reminder that the "provider conscience" rule went into effect on Tuesday and isn't affected by Obama's immediate order to halt Bush's pending federal regulations. Until the rule is reversed by the Obama administration, religiously or morally guided medical professionals -- like nurse Olona, assuming the allegations are true -- will find it much easier to get away with denying women the medical treatment they want and need.

Tracy Clark-Flory

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