A planned merger between Baptist Health Systems (BHS) and Mercy Hospital may force the loss of essential reproductive healthcare services for women seeking healthcare at 4 Florida hospitals.
Mercy Hospital is a Catholic facility that could follow the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services compiled in 1971 by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. These directives prohibit abortions, voluntary sterilizations, contraceptive services, counseling and supplies; most fertility treatments, AIDS prevention and condom-distribution programs, and “morning-after” pills for rape victims. The hospital has already announced that abortion services will be prohibited starting June 1.
A coalition of doctors, national and local women’s organizations called “Concerned Citizens for Community Health” held a press conference outside the hospital’s emergency room in order to inform the public of the impending merger and its implications for women. “The women and men of this community should be outraged that a hospital system that calls itself a ‘community hospital’ has taken drastic steps to prohibit a safe and legal procedure,” said County Commissioner Katy Sorenson.