California AG Requires Catholic Healthcare Megamerger to Continue Abortion and Contraception Access

Dignity Health finalized a merger with Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) to become the largest Catholic healthcare system in the US under the name CommonSpirit. Before approving the merger, the California attorney general (AG) placed stipulations on the deal, requiring CommonSpirit to continue to provide reproductive healthcare, including abortion and contraception, at current levels for the next five years and to inform the Department of Justice of any changes to provided services for five years beyond that. Dignity has been the subject of lawsuits for refusing to perform procedures such as tubal ligations and hysterectomies. CHI follows the US Council of Catholic Bishops’ restrictive “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services,” which prohibits, among other things, abortion, sterilization and contraception. Though prochoice advocates were heartened by the AG’s efforts to protect women’s access to reproductive healthcare, CHI’s leadership touted the merger as one that will allow CommonSpirit “to play a far more significant role in transforming healthcare in this country.”

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