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NJ: Catholic Hospital Merger Threatens Women’s Health

Elizabeth, N.J., will soon lose its last secular hospital. Pending approval from New Jersey’s The Elizabeth General Medical Center and St. Elizabeth Hospital will merge this summer to become Trinitas Hospital, a Catholic facility in which abortions, tubal ligations, vasectomies and contraceptive counseling will not be provided.

The Catholic Health Association of the United States has reported that 32 Catholic hospital mergers occurred last year, and that approximately 10% of the nation’s hospitals are now Catholic. Given the religion’s opposition to abortion and contraception, these hospital do not provide the full variety of reproductive health services that women deserve, including contraception, sterilization, and abortion.

Elizabeth General officials attempted to dismiss fears that women will not have access to needed medical services by announcing a $2 million-dollar agreement with Planned Parenthood of Greater New Jersey, which will refer women to other providers of contraceptive and reproductive health services.

New Jersey Right to Choose’s executive director, Laurie Lowenstein, argues that language barrier, transportation problems, and financial difficulties will make it extremely difficult for some women to seek out an alternative source of reproductive services. She also pointed out that women who request tubal ligation will now be forced to make arrangements for a second hospital stay, instead of having the procedure done after delivery of a child.

Sources:

Newark Star-Ledger - May 16, 1999