by Max Brantley
Worth noting as UAMS and St. Vincent Health continue to discuss ways to merge their hospital operations is this story from the LA Times:
When Hoag Hospital announced this spring that it would no longer provide elective abortions, officials at the esteemed Orange County medical center said the decision was made because of low demand.
But records and interviews show the decision was closely tied to the Newport Beach hospital's new partnership with a Catholic healthcare provider.
Hoag Hospital officials told The Times this week that they wanted the deal to go through and knew elective abortions were a "sensitive issue" for St. Joseph Health System, which has a "statement of common values" that prohibits the procedures.
Richard Afable, a top executive at St. Joseph Health who runs the joint health network, said that St. Joseph made it clear to Hoag that the abortion ban was "sacrosanct" and "required of ourselves and anyone we would work with."
So on May 1, Hoag Hospital stopped providing elective abortions and promised to refer patients elsewhere.
The California attorney general's office, which approved the alliance in February, is now investigating whether Hoag Hospital is doing enough to ensure that there are accessible alternatives for elective abortions, especially for low-income women.
Abortion is but one of the medical procedures and services prohibited by the religious tenets that govern Catholic-supported health institutions. It is wholly understandable when a religious institution decides it cannot function as a partner with an institution that provides services of which it doesn't approve. It is something else when a public institution bows to religious doctrine for financial benefit.