There’s been a lot of anger about Abington hospital’s decision to stop providing abortion services as a result of its impending merger with Holy Redeemer, a Catholic institution. There’s a Facebook page called “Stop the Abington Merger” which includes tidbits like this:
“I pray Abington doesn't merge with [Holy Redeemer], it will be one more nail in the coffin of civil rights for women”
Really? Having to go elsewhere for an abortion is a denial of my civil rights? Only in the narrow world of Emily’s Listers and those who think that the right to an abortion takes precedence over the right to all other forms of health care could this be considered a shot across the bow of reproductive freedom, not to mention religious freedom.
And there’s the rub. Somehow, in a vaguely sinister way, this controversy between secular Abington and Catholic Holy Redeemer has been turned into an attack on Jewish women. Sure, it hasn’t actually been described that way in the press, but there is the subliminal message that because Abington serves a community with a large concentration of Jewish families, the decision to suspend abortions is a violation of not only a ‘woman’s right to choose’ but also a ‘Jewish woman’s right to praise.’
In her piece on Sunday, the Inquirer’s Karen Heller writes that “Rabbis from eight area congregations wrote a letter protesting the merger to Abington chief executive Laurence Merlis”
I’m glad that people are concerned about the sensibilities of clergy. It’s a shame they weren’t so concerned when US Bishops protested about the contraception mandate in Obamacare which would force Catholic institutions to violate their own principles and subsidize what is considered a sin.
Ultimately, this is about money. The merger was needed so that both hospitals could continue to provide the quality care that they are known for in their communities. Women will not be prevented from obtaining abortions in private clinics, at Albert Einstein, or at other facilities in the area and the hyperbole of those who say women’s lives are at stake is transparent.
Worse, their attempt to create tensions between Catholics and Jews is despicable.