When Abington decided to merge with Catholic hospital Holy Redeemer, there is little doubt that they expected the uproar that ensued over their announced plan to stop offering abortions. The outcry has moved far beyond just the residents who use the hospital, and now is coming from a large portion of the doctors on staff, too.
“During the year of negotiations behind closed doors, no staff or community members were involved in the decision-making process,” wrote the 20 residents in Abington’s ob-gyn program, in a letter they released after the meeting. “There is strong opposition to having our medical practice dictated by Catholic doctrine rather than our patients’ best interests and standard of care.”
Robert Michaelson, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Abington for 33 years and past president of the medical staff, said: “I would not be happy practicing at a hospital where accepted medical procedures are restricted. I love what I do.”
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He added that he hoped he didn’t have to confront a choice between compromising his beliefs or leaving Abington.
Lisa Jambusaria of Los Angeles, who is in the final year of her four-year ob-gyn residency training, said she would never have applied to Abington if she had known abortions would be banned.
Although the hospital performs fewer than 100 abortions a year, many involve women who are carrying defective fetuses that would not survive beyond birth, or women whose health is endangered by the pregnancy.
“We are one of the rare hospitals that provides these services,” Jambusaria said. “We get these referrals all the time.”
According to the site, 150 physicians met to condemn the merger of abortion services that would not be offered as a result. Modern Healthcare magazine report lists physician opposition as the second biggest factor for mergers failing to go through. Although the hospital performs few abortions yearly, they are often performed for fetal anomalies or when a woman’s health is at risk. One example given by the Montgomery News involved a woman who went to another hospital’s emergency room after her water broke at 19 weeks, and she and the fetus developed an infection. She was then transferred to Abington to have an abortion to save her life and future fertility.
The original emergency room was at Holy Redeemer. When they won’t perform abortions to save women, those women have traditionally been sent to Abington, which, based on this agreement would now have to turn them away as well.