Mergers between Roman Catholic hospitals and non-Catholic facilities yield varying results when it comes to women's reproductive services, a survey says.
Washington-based Catholics for a Free Choice unveiled an analysis of 57 consolidations between Catholic and non-Catholic hospitals between 1990 and 1995. The group said the result has been a "patchwork effect: denial of care in some places, partial continuation of services in others."
"As these hospital mergers continue at an unprecedented pace, it continually adds to the confusion of what is and isn't available to women," said Gregory Lebel, vice president for public policy at Catholics for a Free Choice, which represents Catholics who believe in the right to abortion and other reproductive services.
Ten of the 57 non-Catholic facilities discontinued reproductive services after the deal was final. Meanwhile, 12 of the consolidations allowed reproductive health services other than abortion to continue at the non-Catholic hospital.
The remaining deals affected services in an array of ways. For example, in some cases abortions and reproductive services were continued, but at an off-campus site that wasn't part of the merger agreement. There were 19 healthcare facilities that didn't respond to the group's requests for information.
"Market forces drive these decisions on what reproductive services will be allowed," Lebel said. "Sometimes the Catholic hospital will be stronger and can force the weaker system to abide by its policies. But when the Catholic hospital is weaker, concessions are made."