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Fewer abortions with hospital consolidations

Pro-Choice demonstrators gather outside Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach Thursday June 20, 2013 to protest the hospital’s decision to stop all abortions. (AP Photo/Orange County Register, Rose Palmisano)

Pro-Choice demonstrators gather outside Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach Thursday June 20, 2013 to protest the hospital’s decision to stop all abortions. (AP Photo/Orange County Register, Rose Palmisano)

Pro-Choice and Anti-Abortion groups faced off at a rally outside Hoag’s Hospital in Newport Beach Thursday June 20, 2013. The Pro-Choice group is protesting Hoag’s Hospital decision to stop all “direct” abortions. (AP Photo/Orange County Register, Rose Palmisano)

Members of Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust chanted “Extra! Extra! read all about it. We are Pro-Life and we are going to shout it,” outside Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach on Thursday, June 20, 2013. Dozens of Pro-Choice demonstrators also showed up to protest Hoag’s decision to stop abortions at all its hospitals. (AP Photo/Orange County Register, Rose Palmisano)

The Rev. Patrick Mahoney prays with members of the Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust outside Hoag’s Hospital in Newport Beach Thursday June 20, 2013. The group prayed for an end to abortion. (AP Photo/Orange County Register, Rose Palmisano)

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NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) — By joining with a bigger Catholic health system, a prominent Orange County hospital hopes to enhance patients’ access to a host of services — except one.

Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian started banning elective abortions this year after reaching an agreement to affiliate with St. Joseph Health.

The move has riled some doctors and women’s advocates and prompted dueling rallies outside the hospital.

Similar clashes have occurred across the country as Catholic and non-Catholic hospitals strike deals in a wave of health care industry mergers.

Hoag’s former president, Dr. Richard Afable, says the hospital took a closer look at its abortion practices because it was joining with a Catholic system and ceased performing them because they were being done infrequently at the hospital.

Associated Press