Cincinnati women carrying fetuses with fatal anomalies must rely on Planned Parenthood or hospitals out of the city for their abortion care now that Christ Hospital, the last hospital in the city to provide these case-specific procedures, has changed its policy.
Under Christ Hospital’s new rules, doctors can only perform abortions in situations where the mother’s life is at risk. The policy change, like most abortion restrictions, puts added financial pressure and an increase in health risks on women who are either unwilling or unable to carry their fetuses to term.
While Planned Parenthood is facilitated to provide abortions in cases of fetal anomalies, the organization recommends that patients undergo the procedure in a hospital, or—at the very least—that there’s a nearby hospital where patients can be referred.
“The cases are highly emotional and tragic,” Danielle Craig—spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio—tells the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Under these circumstances, for many patients, an overnight stay in a hospital is better than an outpatient procedure, and women should have that option.”
In another failing, Christ Hospital did not report the policy change to state authorities back in November:
An Enquirer inquiry into the policy change showed that Christ — like other hospitals throughout Ohio — had failed to report its abortions to state officials, as required by state law. The hospital has since told state officials it performed 59 abortions in the last five and a half years.
Christ’s new one-paragraph policy, which took effect Nov. 20, says physicians may terminate pregnancies only “in situations deemed to be a threat to the life of the mother.” That’s in line with policies and practices at the region’s four other Ohio hospital systems.
Following the Enquirer’s inquiry, Christ Hospital filed their required report on December 30, telling the paper, “We periodically review our policies so our practices are reflective of our mission and the evolving regulations in this area. The Christ Hospital provides compassionate care for the mother when her life is at risk. We refer to other quality health care providers cases that fall outside of this policy.”
(The hospital’s current policy would allow for abortions if the fetus is already dead. Any doctor can decline to perform abortion procedures.)
According to Dr. David Schwartz, an obstetrician who performed specific-case abortions at Christ, the policy change happened because the hospital was reluctant to post a visible sign—as required by Ohio law—that reads “NO ONE CAN FORCE YOU TO HAVE AN ABORTION. NO ONE — NOT A PARENT, NOT A HUSBAND, NOT A BOYFRIEND — NO ONE.” in their lobby. The sign is not required if abortions are only performed under threat of the mother’s death.
Schwartz, who argued with the hospital board over the policy change, points out that sometimes “it’s safer to terminate the pregnancy than to let the pregnancy go, because there’s more risks to a full-term pregnancy than there are to terminate under 20 weeks.”
Huh. It’s almost like Schwartz thinks a hospital should provide women’s healthcare or something.
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