FRC Misleads on Catholic Hospitals, Abortion Care


Three Catholic hospitals in Pennsylvania, all run by Mercy Partners, will likely be sold by the end of the year.

Kevin Cook, Mercy Health Partners president and chief executive officer, said the decision to find a buyer was made after it became increasingly clear that “we weren’t going to generate the investment needed” to remain competitive in the local market.

And while anti-choice organizations like the Family Research Council are blaming the development on “Obamacare,” and more specifically on what they say is the potential for taxpayer-funded abortion care to be forced upon the facilities, this could not be farther from the truth.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) enacted more restrictions on abortion services than ever previously existed – not less. Federal law prohibits federal funding of abortion care (except ostensibly in cases of rape, incest and threats to the life of a woman) under the Hyde Amendment – and that hasn’t changed. Under the so-called “Nelson compromise,” the soon-to-be created government run health exchanges can restrict insurance coverage of abortion care. In addition, states are allowed to ban insurance coverage of abortion care outright even when premiums are paid with your own, private money.  Moreover, the administration banned coverage of abortion in temporary high-risk pools meant to cover people at high risk of health problems who might not otherwise be able to secure insurance until PPACA goes fully into effect.

This hasn’t stopped Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (FRC) from creating his own truth. Perkins puts his very own spin on the potential sale,

Without strict conscience protections in place, medical workers everywhere could be ordered to perform these procedures against their will. So Mercy Health is protecting itself the only way it knows how–by getting out of the business before that business includes abortion.

Mercy Hospitals does acknowledge a changing landscape for hospital care, brought on in part by the changes coming from health care reform, in its decision to look for a buyer. However, the hospital notes that they are, in fact, looking for buyers who may retain its “Catholic, nonprofit affiliation” and associated mission-based care.

Finally, if one needed any more proof of the Family Research Council’s blatantly false exploitation of this news for its own anti-choice purposes, the largest association representing Catholic hospitals, the Catholic Health Association actually supported health care reform and the PPACA – passed with the abortion restrictions.  It was a move that placed the organization in direct conflict with the virulently anti-choice, anti-contraception, anti-life United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (and many anti-choice organizations like the FRC) who did (and do) everything to stand in the way of improving access to health care services for millions of Americans, with its myopic opposition to abortion and contraception.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

  • crowepps

    If their business protocol includes forcing the tenets of their religious faith on people, and the marketplace finds that offensive and the customers decide to go elsewhere and get FULL service care including sterilization and birth control and safe pregnancies, they should go out of business.  That’s how ‘free enterprise’ works.

  • colleen

    I agree that the Catholic church needs to get out of the hospital business but forcing the tenets of their faith on others does not apply when the ill or dying person is low income and/or uninsured and interferes with their ability to make money. For example, we have a new and much needed Franciscan hospital complete with a level one trama center built not far from my home. Problem is they won’t accept patients, not even trama patients who are low income/have no insurance. The poor are forced to travel an additional 25-30 miles. Seeing as  a good portion of the folks this hospital pretends to serve are located 50 miles from ANY hospital this means that the rural poor in my community often die of perfectly preventable trama, heart attacks etc. We were not aware that this would be their policy when the hospital was proposed and built.

    I always think of this when the ‘pro-life’ folks who post here start going on about the ‘wealth’ of Planned Parenthood and how much money abortion clinics make.