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In Maryland Hospital Debate, Women's Health Ignored

Written by Amie Newman for - News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

It seems another fight is brewing over Catholic hospitals and reproductive health care - this time in Maryland. Adventist Healthcare, based in Rockville, MD, is challenging the recommendation of Maryland Health Care Commission chair Marilyn Moon and with it a Catholic hospital's request to build a multi-million dollar hospital in the state.

According to Adventist, Moon's findings were unsubstantiated and flawed - in part as they relate to reproductive health care availability in the state. Holy Cross Hospital's newest proposed center would not offer the range of reproductive health care women in the community need - including fertility treatments, abortion and hormonal contraception.

The Washington Postreports that, for "two years, the two health-care giants have waged a costly and intense competition for state approval of a new hospital in Montgomery's fastest-growing region." Adventist wants to build a hospital a few miles to the north of where Holy Cross has proposed its new center. But Moon says that Holy Cross' proposal, to build on the Germantown campus of Montgomery College, was superior. She also noted that Holy Cross has "a track record that is equal to or better than that of the Adventist hospitals 'with respect to quality of care, community benefits, and efficient and effective management.'"

In response to Moon's recommendations, Adventist filed a 105-page document of exceptions today with the Maryland Health Care Commission, asking them to "reopen the comparative review of upcounty hospital projects because...the recommended decision..." is flawed.

In direct response to Adventist's concerns that Holy Cross does not provide critical reproductive health care services to women, Moon wrote, "I do not find that approval . . . would have a substantial negative impact on the availability or accessibility of the services that [Holy Cross Hospital-Germantown] will not provide, because it will be adhering to the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church."

A host of local and national women's groups had raised concerns about Holy Cross' refusal to provide many health care services the women of Maryland need including the Maryland Coalition for Sexual Assault, Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, The MergerWatch Project, and the National Women's Law Center. Read more