As medical systems expand, merge and contract again, one of the most alarming trends has been the number of religious-based hospitals and medical centers that have merged with non-religiously affiliated care centers, bringing those centers under their wing when it comes to patient care and available services.
Nowhere has this been clearer than in hospitals and clinics. Once they merge with Catholic health networks, these health providers are no longer allowed to provide abortions. It is happening once again in Pennsylvania, where Abington Health and Holy Redeemer Health System are planning a merger. Out of “respect” for Holy Redeemer’s Catholic mission, Abington has announced it will no longer provide abortions, despite the fact that its hospital is nearly twice the size of its affiliate.
Via NBC Philadelphia:
As part of the new health group, Abington announced they would no longer offer
“We wanted assure that we would be able to provide assurances that Holy Redeemer would continue to fully comply with ethical and religious directives — and all the Catholic entities of our new organization would,” said [Abington Health President and CEO Larry] Merlis. “But at Abington we would want to assure that we were also providing that full range of services — we have tremendous women’s health services between both organizations and reproductive health services.
“But we, moving forward, would no longer do abortions at Abington.”
The decision by Abington to honor Redeemer’s Pro-Life stance and end abortions as part of their family planning department came as a disappointment for pro-choice advocates.
“Women seeking abortion in Pennsylvania already have limited options. It’s unfortunate that a longstanding provider of this critically needed care has chosen to succumb to pressure and is discontinuing these services,” said Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania President and CEO Dayle Steinberg.
The decision to no longer provide safe abortion care is one made even more problematic by the fact that Abington is the largest hospital in its area. A woman in need of abortion as a result of a health-threatening pregnancy may need to travel even greater distances now in order to find a hospital that will see her as the patient and protect her health. As we saw in 2009, even when a patient’s life is threatened, Catholic hospitals will still force the woman to wait until she is about to die rather than provide an abortion, or the Church hierarchy will demote or excommunicate staffers who provide or support an abortion in such circumstances.