FRC Misleads on Catholic Hospitals, Abortion Care

Amie Newman

Three Catholic hospitals are for sale in Pennsylvania and the anti-choice Family Research Council is blaming it on the non-existent taxpayer funded abortion care in health care reform.

Three Catholic hospitals in Pennsylvania, all run by Mercy Partners, will likely be sold by the end of the year.

Kevin Cook, Mercy Health Partners president and chief executive officer, said the decision to find a buyer was made after it became increasingly clear that “we weren’t going to generate the investment needed” to remain competitive in the local market.

And while anti-choice organizations like the Family Research Council are blaming the development on “Obamacare,” and more specifically on what they say is the potential for taxpayer-funded abortion care to be forced upon the facilities, this could not be farther from the truth.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) enacted more restrictions on abortion services than ever previously existed – not less. Federal law prohibits federal funding of abortion care (except ostensibly in cases of rape, incest and threats to the life of a woman) under the Hyde Amendment – and that hasn’t changed. Under the so-called “Nelson compromise,” the soon-to-be created government run health exchanges can restrict insurance coverage of abortion care. In addition, states are allowed to ban insurance coverage of abortion care outright even when premiums are paid with your own, private money.  Moreover, the administration banned coverage of abortion in temporary high-risk pools meant to cover people at high risk of health problems who might not otherwise be able to secure insurance until PPACA goes fully into effect.

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This hasn’t stopped Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (FRC) from creating his own truth. Perkins puts his very own spin on the potential sale,

Without strict conscience protections in place, medical workers everywhere could be ordered to perform these procedures against their will. So Mercy Health is protecting itself the only way it knows how–by getting out of the business before that business includes abortion.

Mercy Hospitals does acknowledge a changing landscape for hospital care, brought on in part by the changes coming from health care reform, in its decision to look for a buyer. However, the hospital notes that they are, in fact, looking for buyers who may retain its “Catholic, nonprofit affiliation” and associated mission-based care.

Finally, if one needed any more proof of the Family Research Council’s blatantly false exploitation of this news for its own anti-choice purposes, the largest association representing Catholic hospitals, the Catholic Health Association actually supported health care reform and the PPACA – passed with the abortion restrictions.  It was a move that placed the organization in direct conflict with the virulently anti-choice, anti-contraception, anti-life United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (and many anti-choice organizations like the FRC) who did (and do) everything to stand in the way of improving access to health care services for millions of Americans, with its myopic opposition to abortion and contraception.

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