California's Attorney General's office has declared that Hoag hospital, which was recently bought by St. Joseph Health, does not have to perform abortions. Nice of her, right? However, the hospital must "help women access those services elsewhere."
Hoag has agreed to this precious bit of government bullying.
Here's the background: Hoag hospital and St. Joseph's hospital formed a partnership and announced last year that Hoag was no longer going to perform abortions. The state got involved after a small protest of three or four elderly feminists and an onslaught of outraged media. The Attorney General's office said it was concerned that the hospital was limiting women's access to a "full array" of health services even though there's several other abortuaries nearby.
"We spent several months investigating those allegations and negotiating with Hoag," Special Asst. Atty. General Jill Habig said. "The agreement addresses the concerns that were raised and takes several affirmative steps to ensure women's access to reproductive healthcare."For a while it seemed that the AG's office might actually force the hospital to perform abortions so this is a bit of good news. But the really bad news is that the state is assuming the power to force private organizations to "help women access" abortion.
Last spring — not long after Hoag entered into an initial affiliation agreement with St. Joseph Health, which was approved by the state attorney general's office in February, 2013 — Hoag officials announced that they would halt elective abortion services at the hospital.
As Hoag has already agreed to this I doubt there will be a free speech lawsuit coming out of this. But there should be.