While the rest of the nation moves to restrict a woman’s access to reproductive health care, we in California have a responsibility to advocate for proactive laws that improve access to care. SB 1094 is one such bill. Authored by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), SB 1094 would help maintain community access to crucial hospital-based health services by offering the state attorney general an additional and narrow enforcement mechanism when community hospitals merge. This is especially important as more religiously-affiliated hospitals are consolidating or affiliating to cut costs and expand their ability to provide care.
In a Sept 23 editorial in the Sacramento Bee, Dr. Beverly Sansone tells how one such merger affected local access to reproductive health care at Hoag Hospital in Orange County.
"As an obstetrician in Orange County, I am very familiar with how mergers can negatively affect the types of services offered in a community. Last fall when Hoag Hospital announced a merger with St. Joseph Health, obstetricians questioned our administration about the impact a merger would have on women’s health and abortion. Throughout the process, Hoag officials assured staff and the community there would be “no change” in services. You can imagine our dismay when we learned that Hoag, after the merger, would no longer offer comprehensive reproductive health care.
While working with the attorney general’s office to try to restore the women’s services that were cut or at risk by the merger, it became clear that the AG’s hands were tied – there are simply not enough protections in law to ensure access to women’s reproductive health care during the merger process."