A coalition of pro-reproductive rights groups, including the National Organization for Women (NOW), NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, Catholics for Choice and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, have joined to encourage the Maryland Health Care Commission to reject Holy Cross Hospital’s proposal to build a hospital in Montgomery County, Maryland. The coalition objected to the construction of a hospital with religiously sanctioned restrictions on publicly owned land.
The groups expressed concern that Catholic hospitals’ refusal to provide certain reproductive health cervices, such as tubal ligations, surgical sterilization, and abortions even in life-threatening situations, could restrict women’s and teens’ access to medically necessary services. Melissa Kleder, the Interim Director at NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, stated, “Not all women know they can’t get these services at Catholic hospitals until it’s too late. In emergency situations, time is of the essence.”
Conflicts between hospitals and church authorities have been on the rise recently. Last May, a Catholic nun in Arizona was excommunicated following controversy after she approved an emergency abortion to save the life of a woman who developed pulmonary hypertension during her pregnancy. Sister Margaret McBride was a senior administrator at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix.