May 12, 2014
Last month, California’s Attorney General upheld her previous approval of a corporate partnership between Hoag Hospital in Orange County and St. Joseph, a Catholic hospital chain, despite the fact that Hoag doctors had publicly condemned the hospital’s decision to stop providing abortions.
Hoag administrators don’t hide the fact that St. Joseph pressured them to stop abortion services. Catholic hospital bosses say they don’t allow “direct abortions,” whatever that means (it’s not a medical term but one invented by the Catholic Church). In other words, medical decisions are being made according to so-called “religious principles,” rather than the physical well-being of a person – just like in the Middle Ages.
In fact, Catholic hospitals have been a major force behind the push toward restricting women’s access to safe abortions in this country. And Catholic hospital chains have been buying up hospitals and expanding their reach: they already serve 1 in 6 patients in the U.S.
When state legislatures pass laws to restrict access to abortion services, commentators usually say conservative Republicans are behind it. But in California, the Democratic Party dominates state politics. And California’s Democratic Attorney General, Kamala Harris, approved the partnership between Hoag and St. Joseph, not once but twice, even though she had the authority to block it.
Restricting abortion services affects primarily working-class and poor women, who don’t have the means to travel and find a hospital or clinic that provides the services.
Working-class women can’t count on politicians from the Republican or Democratic Parties to defend the right to a safe abortion. We will have to fight to re-win these rights, and the more we allow them to be taken away, the harder it will be to win them back.