Report: Abington Docs Meet to Oppose Proposed Merger

According to a report on Philly.com, doctors spoke today to express their opposition to the proposed Abington-Holy Redeemer regional health system.


The Philadelphia Inquirer reported earlier today that hundreds of doctors affiliated with Abington Health met Wednesday morning to express opposition to the proposed Abington-Holy Redeemer Merger.

From the story:

“It was clear that the outrage and betrayal was felt unanimously throughout the hospital,” wrote the 20 residents in Abington’s OB-GYN program, in a letter they released after the meeting. “There is strong opposition to having our medical practice dictated by Catholic doctrine rather than our patients’ best interests and standard of care.”

The story cited a doctor who is in her final year of a 4-year OB-GYN residency training at Abington; she said she would not have applied to Abington Memorial Hospital had abortions been banned. 

According to the story, the hospital performs fewer than 100 abortions per year and "many involve women carrying defective fetuses ..."

See the Philly.com story here.

Abington Health and Holy Redeemer Health System on June 27 announced a letter of intent to form a new regional health system. Abington Health President and CEO Laurence Merlis and Holy Redeemer President and CEO Michael Laign made the announcement at the Abington Township building, which is across from Abington Memorial Hospital.

Merlis said he had a “great and deep respect” for Holy Redeemer’s religious traditions; he said Holy Redeemer would continue to comply with the religious directives for a Catholic health care system, and Abington, which he called a secular organization, will continue to offer women’s and reproductive health services, but will stop offering abortions.

A patient at Abington OB-GYN, who wishes to remain anonymous, said she is now considering finding a new doctor because of the proposed "restrictions on care."

"Right now they're proposing a ban on abortions and they say that nothing else we'll be affected, but the Catholic Church doesn't believe in birth control either, so I don't believe them when they say it will only affect the hospital's abortion policy," the patient said. "If I wanted the Catholic Church to tell me how to handle my health, I'd talk to them about it in church. Also, how dare they impose their religious beliefs on someone who goes to a hospital?"

Of course, the issue is polarizing. The Philly.com article said Merlis is being "deluged" with correspondence on the issue. Locally, there is a petition to stop the Abington-Holy Redeemer merger, created by Elkins Park resident Lisa Kelley.

See the petition here.

How do you feel about the issue? , and feel free to leave a comment.

Abington Memorial, Holy Redeemer and Lansdale hospitals will continue to serve their respective communities, according to Laign, and each will continue to have its own staff.

Talks were in the works for about a year. The yet-to-be-named regional health system will now enter a “due diligence period,” which will last up to three months. Then, the boards of each health system will enter into a definitive agreement. Laign said the new regional health system will likely have federal and state approvals to move forward by next spring.

Merlis will be the regional health system's CEO; Laign will be its COO.

Holy Redeemer Hospital dates back to 1924; Abington Memorial Hospital is ten years older.

Pat Stanton July 12, 2012 at 03:19 AM
It is sad to read that the babies being killed by the doctors at Abington are described as "defective fetuses".We all know where this type of language was last used. Doctors are trained to do no harm and take an oath verifying this truth.Hospitals are for healing not for killing Down-Syndrome children.
Thomas J Frey July 12, 2012 at 03:34 AM
I happen to be pro choice, But the most horrifying part of this story is when the patch asked if i would like to "take a STAB at our poll here".
Mischa Arnosky (Editor) July 12, 2012 at 03:43 AM
It’s tough coming up with different ways to say ‘take our poll.’ Duly noted. Thanks for the comment.
Thomas J Frey July 12, 2012 at 03:53 AM
You guys are great.
Thomas J Frey July 12, 2012 at 04:00 AM
which i took
Bonnie B.Finkelstein July 12, 2012 at 05:07 AM
I oppose the merger because I want Abington to remain a secular hospital which makes its medical decisions on scientific bases, Also, I am appalled that no doctors at the hospital were consulted before hospital administrators made a decision affecting patient care; to me,medical opinions matter more than financial ones, and this decision does not lead to Abington's being the kind of hospital I would want to go to. Fortunately, those of us in the area have many other choices: HUP, Jeff, Fox Chase, Moss Rehab, Einstein. I think the Abington administrators may be very surprised by how many current patients decide to switch hospitals, even if they like their current doctors.
Jim Roberts July 12, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Yes, let's have science - 40 years after abortions were legally mandated, the "science" clearly shows how early life begins. We now have ultrasounds, 3D ultrasounds, fetal monitors, etc. that show beyond a doubt the baby in the womb. So by all means - let the scientific evidence reign, and let's stop this barbaric practice of abortion!
pruckels July 12, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Good for them. Religious dogma has no place in medical care.
Marc Lombardi July 12, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Amen! Er...I mean "Hear, hear!"
Axil July 12, 2012 at 03:26 PM
It's way to easy to imagine the slippery slope in this situation. Next we will see Scientology-run centers merging with secular hospitals and psychiatric services won't be provided. Then Jehovah's Witness mergers that prohibit blood transfusions. No one can say that any of these religions are "wrong", but their dogma has no place in hospitals that tout themselves as secular.
Bob19006 July 12, 2012 at 03:49 PM
When I first read about the proposed merger a few weeks ago, I thought how will a Catholic hospital and a secular hospital successfully merge? My concerns are now confirmed even though the original news articles did not raise any concerns. I am a evangelical protestant, a tea party supporter and think that early term abortions should be legal. (By the way, the tea party has no position on abortions as it only has official positions on economic issues). The extremes of both sides (1) that an egg 1 second after being fertilized is a person and cannot be legally aborted; and (2) that a 9 month fetus 1 second before birth is not a person and can be legally aborted can never be reconciled to an accepatable middle ground although I find the latter position from the far left much more extreme. Good luck as the extremes of both sides will never find this merger to be acceptable.
Joe Rooney July 12, 2012 at 04:48 PM
By their very residence at a hospital, isn't everyone there "defective" in some way? Who at Abington Hospital gets to decide which defective residence are to be eliminated? It sounds pretty creepy to me. Also, I am amazed at the coldness and lack of compassion exhibited by so many. Abortion is awful and always a tragedy. Respectfully, Joe Rooney
k senegeto July 12, 2012 at 07:57 PM
An abortion is a choice and not an easy one. But it should remain an option in places like abington hospital, where all safety precautions are taken. If a woman wants an abortion she'll have one. If we allow abortions not to happen in hospitals and clinics as such, then what?
Chris Butler July 13, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Pat. You're an idiot. Some abortions are necessary to save the life of the mother. Some abortions are necessary to spare the mother the tragedy of having to deliver a still born, as was the case with my wife. Perhaps you should think before you open your cancerous mouth.
Joan July 13, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Abington Hospital was originally founded by Quakers....so why is is so important for Abington Hospital to now follow/respect the Catholic beliefs of Holy Redeemer Hospital!?!?! For 98 years Abington Hospital has followed the Quaker belief - RESPECT that!!!
Pat Stanton July 13, 2012 at 03:12 AM
Chris, it is never a good idea to attack your opponent by name-calling. Forensics teachers instruct their students that by using this tactic, it indicates a lack of knowledge on the name-caller's part. Check Congressional testimony used in the arguments to ban partial birth abortion, given by the nation's top OBGYNs- it's never necessary to abort a baby. Unfortunately, doctors don't always give the best advice.
Chris Butler July 13, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Pat, please don't go all intelligent on me. You disservice yourself. Your claim that hospitals kill babies with downs syndrome is idiotic. Hence, calling you an idiot. You see, such a broad statement is, in and of itself, idiotic. If one is inclined to iterating idiotic statements, then it stands to follow logically, that person is an idiot. I was not name calling, simply using my inference skills to arrive at a logical conclusion. By the way, I have a degree in criminal justice, and constitutional law. I am well versed in forensics. Your condescension offends.
AnnetteRF July 13, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Even IF abortion could be morally justified to kill "defective" babies, they are a tiny minority of all the babies being aborted in America on a daily basis.
AnnetteRF July 13, 2012 at 06:55 PM
I SUPPORT the merger, and I SUPPORT the decision of Abington to stop doing abortions. Although I am Jewish, in 1993 I decided to find a doctor who did not do abortions, which of course meant I had to find a Catholic hospital. Amazingly I found a doctor (Jewish, like me) who is against abortion and chose to affiliate only with Catholic hospitals so he would not have to be forced to do abortions. He is still my OBGYN and is now on staff at Holy Redeemer. Both hospitals are only minutes from my home, and on principle I refuse to use hospitals (except in emergencies) that perform abortions. BTW to the poster who claimed abortions are sometimes needed to save a woman the grief of a stillbirth...my blood ran cold when I realized you were talking about me in a sense. In 1959 my mother was told I might be stillborn due to the Rh disease she had....the doctors were wrong, and all I ended up needing was a blood transfusion....but if I had been conceived after 1973 and your wife had been my mother, I'd be dead. Thank God I was born when abortions were illegal, and thank God I had the mother I had! Stillbirths are terrible, I know, I had more than one during my childbearing years. But that is up to God, not the mother to end the life of the baby.
AnnetteRF July 13, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Imagine how a person with Down Syndrome, or a woman conceived by rape (like my friend C.) would feel reading your comments.
Parentfirst July 14, 2012 at 01:35 PM
I agree with Annette on one thing, patients do have rights to see out whatever care they want, whether it is birth control related or quality of life. If you are on the pro-choice side then you should be able to get the care that you are looking for. If you are pro-life, then you should be able to seek out a doctor or facility who meets your needs. My argument is not about the abortion part of it, as I do not have any role in that. But a concern that I would have, a Catholic hospital merging with a secular one, that I saw play out personally. A relative had been given a terminal diagnosis with very little time left due to its progression. Rather than letting my relative live out her days in peace, they "bullied" her (I put that in quotes because it would have been one thing to make a recommendation, but it was another to keep pushing it until she gave in). They convinced her that she should still go through treatments which could, not would, but could give her slightly more time. I have always resented that hospital for making her go through that emotional anquish. Fortunately, she passed before being subjected to the horrible treatments that would have greatly reduced her quality of life in her end of days. But she was clearly tortured mentally over the suffering she would endure with the medications. The hospital had the right to do that given that it was a Catholic hospital. But I will forever hate them for it, and regret that she chose to go there.
TommyA July 16, 2012 at 08:43 AM
Everyone had a choice before when you could decide to go to Holy Redeemer or Abington. Now that choice will be taken away. Patients and the doctors who work there will now more than likely choose to go somewhere else if they so desire .... and some will. It's just a shame that if both were co-existing fine before, why did the Administrations handle this on their backhand? How well was this thought through? Too many bean counters today work on a bottom line basis and have no idea of operational ramifications when they do so.
TommyA July 16, 2012 at 08:54 AM
Agreed ... choice is being taken away ... and it's being taken away by bean counters. The merger is financially driven and not logically thought out. I see several lawsuits in the future for their merger. Especially when individuals start going back to bad doctors willing to perform unsafe abortions. Wasn't it not too long ago Philly arrested a doctor who did just this? Just like K Senegeto stated, think about it .... "If we allow abortions not to happen in hospitals and clinics as such, then what?"
TommyA July 16, 2012 at 08:58 AM
PS. Choice is being taken away between going to either of these 2hospitals ... and it's being taken away by bean counters. The merger is financially driven and not logically thought out. I see several lawsuits in the future for their merger. Especially when individuals start going back to bad doctors willing to perform unsafe abortions. Wasn't it not too long ago Philly arrested a doctor who did just this? He even did unnecessary abortions and lost a few patients along the way too ... in the name of greed. Just like K Senegeto stated, think about it .... "If we allow abortions not to happen in hospitals and clinics as such, then what?"


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