By Sharon Salyer
The recently completed business partnership between Swedish Health Services and Providence Health &Services is getting national attention — one example of the thorny women’s reproductive issues raised when Catholic and non-Catholic health care organizations join forces.
A story in the New York Times says that the issues raised in the Swedish-Providence partnership are being seen across the nation.
Financially stronger Catholic-sponsored medical organizations are increasingly joining with secular health care groups, in some cases limiting access to treatments like contraception, abortion and sterilization, the story notes.
In fact, as Swedish and Providence moved closer to sealing a deal last year, objections were raised by some women’s reproductive rights organizations.
Swedish, which had conducted some elective abortions at one of its downtown Seattle hospitals, announced that it would no longer do so after the affiliation took effect.
Instead, Swedish said it would make a donation to Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest so that it could open a new clinic in Seattle near one of its hospital campuses. The clinic would offer abortions as well as an array of women’s reproductive health services, such as birth control and annual exams.
As reported in The Herald in October, this debate over women’s reproductive issues echoes some of the same concerns heard in 1994 when Everett’s two hospitals merged. One, Providence Hospital, was Catholic. The other, General Hospital Medical Center, was not.