Catholic Hospitals Are Preventing Doctors From Working in Abortion Clinics Off Hours

For years Catholic hospitals have had a major impact on their communities when it comes to health care access, including abortion. In the years just after Roe v. Wade was decided, community hospitals — including Catholic entities — provided a large percentage of the country’s terminations, since stand-alone reproductive health clinics were almost non-existent. But that dwindled as abortion opponents campaigned to have the procedure divorced from hospital services, protesting and otherwise pressuring the hospitals and their boards into dropping these services all together.

Now, Catholic hospitals are even more restrictive than before.

Citing Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, they’ve refused to not only participate in elective abortions, but also denied those who were miscarrying the ability to request a D&C procedure – and even excommunicated an Arizona nun for approving a life-saving abortion.

Catholic hospitals also impacted community abortion clinics by refusing to offer official transfer agreements to clinics or individual doctors providing abortions. They claimed that any relationship with an abortion clinic would be tantamount to complicity in the procedure.

But that still wasn’t enough.

In order to put even more pressure on abortion access, Catholic health care entities have yet another way to cut off abortion access: banning their own employees from providing abortions, even when they are off the clock.

And this contractual ban is affecting even more doctors as religiously affiliated hospitals take over a growing market share. Employees are either being forbidden to work in clinics on their off hours, or they’re having job offers pulled once they mention their intention to offer abortion care.

NPR reports:

National Women’s Law Center lawyer Noel León says she has worked with at least 30 physicians and nurse practitioners from 20 different states who faced problems similar to [primary care physician Kimberly] Remski’s when they disclosed to their employers, or potential employers, that they planned to provide abortions. They’re being told, “We can’t provide the care we went into medicine to provide,” León says. “We shouldn’t be putting providers in the position of caring for their patients or keeping their jobs.”

Of course, this isn’t the only instance of Catholic employers claiming that they get to control the personal lives of their employees.

Catholic schools are well-known for firing teachers for being gay, for being pregnant and unmarried or for using reproductive assistance technologies, like IVF. In Wisconsin, Catholic employees at one diocese were warned that they could be fired if they tried to use the birth control coverage in their insurance.

Meanwhile, Catholic employees working in non-religious hospitals have an entire plethora of tasks they can opt out of by declaring moral objections — running the gamut from refusing to take blood pressure readings, or even writing down the names of patients who have had or are about to have abortions, to refusing to treat a newborn because she is the child of gay parents.

While secular hospitals have no recourse to address health care providers who refuse care and discriminate on the basis of their religion during their actual working hours, religious hospitals can control the actions of their employees when they aren’t even at work.

With health care in turmoil and hospitals merging left and right in order to maximize their profits, Catholic and other religious hospitals are only going to grow their market share. And that means their influence over what doctors can do in their off hours will grow exponentially, too.

Jezebel reports:

According to a 2016 report by patient rights watchdog MergerWatch, “14.5 percent of all acute care hospitals in the United States are Catholic owned or affiliated.” This is particularly troublesome in states like Alaska, Iowa (an anti-abortion hellscape), Washington, Wisconsin and South Dakota where “more than 40 percent of acute care beds are in hospitals operating under Catholic health restrictions.” For states like Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri, Oregon and Kentucky, the percentage of Catholic owned or affiliated hospitals ranges from 30 to 39 percent. In Michigan, where Remski planned to practice medicine, one in four hospital beds are in a Catholic hospital.

We’re already seeing a massive shortage in abortion providers. Thanks to rules like this from religiously controlled hospitals, this crisis will only get worse.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

61 comments

Barbara S
Barbara S3 days ago

thank you

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Marija M
Marija M5 days ago

I agree with Irene...tks

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Leo C
Leo C5 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Ingrid A
Ingrid A7 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Sophie A
Sophie A8 days ago

thank you

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Tania N
Tania N8 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Tania N
Tania N8 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Barbara B
Barbara B10 days ago

It never ceases to amaze me how a total stranger/strangers want to tell me what I can or cannot do with MY body!!

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Janis K
Janis K11 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Leo C
Leo C11 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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