Opposition to Catholic-Secular Mergers Picking Up Steam

affiliate_logoWe’ve been watching the news around mergers of Catholic and secular hospitals closely.

It’s an interesting merger of a highly polarizing issue (reproductive health care) and a topic that is getting more attention in the state, namely hospital consolidation.

The issue has gotten the full attention of the most senior leaders in Washington State government, including Governor Inslee himself.

Today, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington sent out a fundraising appeal that was directly tied to the issue. I’ve pasted their email below.

It strikes me that the opponents of Catholic-secular mergers are not only handily winning the framing of Catholic-secular hospital mergers as threats to reproductive choice, but that they are picking up steam.

And, in a state where (I’ve heard but not seen) polling numbers put the pro-choice majority in the state at mid to low 60’s, the politics line up pretty well for Democrats in the legislature.

Bottom line: this effort is gaining momentum, and lines up well for a possible legislative push next session.

In Washington State, an estimated 40 percent of hospital beds are in religiously affiliated hospitals, and with 10 mergers between Catholic and secular hospitals announced statewide in 2012, that percentage will only grow.

This is bad news for access to reproductive healthcare, since Catholic-run hospitals must comply with directives set by the Catholic Church that forbid doctors from providing abortion care and even birth control. It’s especially bad news for women living in rural areas, where the only available care may come from a Catholic-run hospital.

But that’s not all. Catholic hospital directives also complicate patient access to end-of-life care and compassionate care for the LGBTQ community.

Barring patients from needed care isn’t just dangerous – it’s the opposite of what healthcare should be. That’s why we’re working tirelessly to ensure all Washingtonians get the healthcare they need when and where they need it.

We need your help — we’re up against a tough and well-funded opposition, but we can win with a well-organized campaign. Please make a contribution to this vital and time-sensitive work.

We have worked hard to ensure that the laws of our state reflect our values here in Washington. Help us stand up for a pro-choice Washington, and for every patient’s right to compassionate and comprehensive healthcare.

Thank you for your support.


Rachel Berkson, Executive Director