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J Am Med Womens Assoc. 1997 Spring;52(2):65-8.

Religious freedom, reproductive health care, and hospital mergers.

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  • 1City University of New York Law School, Queens, USA.


This article examines the impact of hospital mergers and the formation of health care networks involving religious hospitals on the provision of reproductive health care. Although instances of access to such services being curtailed at non-Catholic religious facilities have been reported, no systematic study of hospitals owned by other religious denominations has yet been done. Accordingly, the author focuses on Roman Catholic institutions and policies. Efforts by Roman Catholic Bishops to enforce the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services on new institutional partners has led to the elimination of or severe restrictions on patient access to abortion, contraception, infertility treatments, and even to emergency contraception for rape victims. The article suggests steps that physicians, patients, and community organizations and activists can take to safeguard reproductive health care as new institutional and professional relationships are formed.

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