Abington Memorial Hospital has called off plans to merge with the Catholic Holy Redeemer Health System in the face of a strong backlash over a stipulation requiring the former facility to stop offering abortions due to the religious beliefs of the latter.
"Abington Health and Holy Redeemer Health System have decided to end
discussions regarding a potential partnership to create a larger health
system," read a statement posted on Abington Memorial's website yesterday. "Together we had a bold vision that we believe would have served
our community well. While we are disappointed, we believe this decision
is in the best interest of both organizations. Abington Health and Holy
Redeemer Health System will continue to seek opportunities to enhance
the health of the communities we serve."
After the partnership was announced three weeks ago, the community reaction was deafening. About 150 physicians affiliated with Abington Memorial met last week against the decision, claiming that they were not consulted first.
A Change.org petition, "Stop the merger with Holy Redeemer Health System," expressed that, in addition to abortion, residents were concerned Holy Redeemer's religious beliefs would impact services concerning end-of-life issues, contraceptives for both employees and patients, recognition of Do Not Resuscitate orders, stem cell and infertility treatments and domestic partner rights. It quickly garnered over 6,100 signatures.
A similarly-titled Facebook page gained 1,460 "likes." Members of both groups rejoiced at the news of the cancellation. "Wonderful job," one Facebook user wrote. "And despite a terrible mistake by AMH to even consider this merger, thank goodness they had the sense to listen to the community outrage."