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The Chester County Hospital in West Chester, Pa., is accused of forcing unwed teenage mothers who give birth there to take a contraceptive before they can be discharged, according to a federal civil rights suit filed Wednesday. Attorneys Mark B. Frost and Josephine Carabello Patti filed the suit on behalf of 18-year-old Kelly Ann Chrupcala and her mother, Cynthia Chrupcala, both of West Chester. The suit says that in January 2000, Kelly Ann, then 17, was admitted to CCH and gave birth to a healthy baby girl. Three days later, the suit says, the new mother was nursing her infant when an unnamed nurse entered her hospital room and “informed her that it was mandatory that she select a form of birth control before her discharge from the hospital and that she would not be discharged until she did so.” Chrupcala claims the nurse informed her that she could select a contraceptive in pill form or receive an injection of Depo Provera. The girl claims she informed the nurse that she wanted to speak with her mother first but that the nurse insisted that she had to select a form of birth control before being released. Depo Provera is a long-lasting contraceptive administered by injection once every 13 weeks that uses the hormone progestin to stop the release of an egg and to thicken the mucus in the cervix, making it difficult for the sperm to enter the uterus. The suit says that when Cynthia Chrupcala arrived at the hospital that day, she discussed the issue with her daughter. But the suit says that when Cynthia Chrupcala attempted to speak to the nurse about the different forms of contraceptive available, the nurse refused to provide her with any information and “informed plaintiff’s mother that her opinion was unimportant.” The suit says Cynthia Chrupcala informed the nurse that she did not want her daughter to be administered the injectable contraceptive or any contraceptive prior to discharge. Kelly Ann Chrupcala also claims she informed the nurse that she did not want the injectable contraceptive. But despite their explicit opposition, the suit alleges, the nurse administered the shot of Depo Provera to Kelly Ann Chrupcala “against her will and her mother’s consent.” Frost and Patti contend that the hospital had “a mandatory policy which requires that all teenage and unwed mothers receive a form of contraception prior to their discharge.” According to this policy, they contend, “if a form of contraception is not administered, the patient will not be discharged from the hospital.” The suit alleges that the policy “was implemented as a result of the defendant hospital receiving monies from the federal government, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and/or the county of Chester to develop programs for family planning services and teenage pregnancy prevention.” As a result of receiving the shot, the suit says, Kelly Ann Chrupcala suffered excessive bleeding and mental anguish. Frost and Patti contend that the hospital’s policy violated Chrupcala’s “fundamental right to procreation, contraception and family matters.” The suit includes privacy claims under the U.S. and Pennsylvania constitutions, as well as false imprisonment, battery and medical malpractice claims. Named as defendants are the Chester County Hospital, Dr. Ronald P. Clauhs, Downingtown OB-GYN Associates and the unnamed “Nurse Jane Doe.” The case is Chrupcala v. The Chester County Hospital, 00-cv-6077.

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