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NEW YORK – A religiously affiliated hospital announced today that it will continue to provide life-saving abortion care to its patients, despite being stripped of its affiliation with the Roman Catholic Diocese in Phoenix. In a statement today, St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix said, "Morally, ethically, and legally we simply cannot stand by and let someone die whose life we might be able to save."
"St. Joseph's made the right decision to stand up for the rights and health of women in need of life-saving care," said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project. "A hospital's first responsibility must be the needs of its patients. Any hospital that fails to provide emergency abortion care violates federal law. No woman should be afraid that she will be denied the care she needs when she goes to a hospital."
St. Joseph's Hospital provided a life-saving abortion to a young mother of four in November 2009, prompting the Bishop of Phoenix to remove his endorsement of the hospital today after hospital officials refused to "acknowledge in writing that the medical procedure that resulted in the abortion at St. Joseph's Hospital was a violation" of the policy that governs all Catholic hospitals and "will never occur again at St. Joseph's Hospital."
The ACLU, citing the Arizona incident and other refusals of emergency care across the country, wrote to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in July alerting them to the potential violations of federal law by religiously affiliated hospitals that refuse to provide emergency abortions and requesting an investigation.
The ACLU's letter, which explains the federal laws requiring hospitals to provide emergency care, can be found at: www.aclu.org/reproductive-freedom/aclu-letter-centers-medicare-and-medicaid-regarding-denial-reproductive-health-
St. Joseph's statement can be found at: www.stjosephs-phx.org/stellent/groups/public/@xinternet_con_sjh/documents/webcontent/212135.pdf
The Diocese of Phoenix's letter can be found at: www.aclu.org/religion-belief-reproductive-freedom/letter-roman-catholic-diocese-phoenix-catholic-healthcare-west