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ACLU of Washington Calls On Hospital District To Comply With Reproductive Privacy Act

ACLU of Washington Calls On Hospital District To Comply With Reproductive Privacy Act

August 13, 2015 — The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington State on Monday again called on San Juan County Public Hospital District No. 1 to comply with state law on providing abortion services, the Journal of the San Juan Islands reports (Smith, Journal of the San Juan Islands, 8/11).

Background

The state's Reproductive Privacy Act, adopted in 1991, says the state cannot deny or interfere with a woman's right to have an abortion. It also requires medical facilities in the state that provide maternity care to also offer abortion services.

In February, ACLU of Washington sent letters to three hospitals in the state. One of those hospitals, Jefferson Healthcare, subsequently approved a new reproductive health policy including abortion care. In addition, ACLU also filed a lawsuit against Skagit Regional Health, the third-largest public hospital district in Washington and the operator of several clinics and a large hospital, for allegedly not complying with the law (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/21).

ACLU Request

ACLU of Washington State in a blog post Monday reiterated its July letter to the hospital board of commissioners for San Juan County Public Hospital District No. 1, notifying them that the district's contract with PeaceHealth, a religiously affiliated health care provider, does not comply with RPA (Journal of the San Juan Islands, 8/11).

According to ACLU, San Juan County Public Hospital District No. 1 contracted with PeaceHealth to offer health care services, which are provided through Peace Island Medical Center (Bouchtia, ACLU of Washington State blog, 8/10). PIMC has stated that abortion services are not offered "in any PeaceHealth-owned, operated or leased facility" (Journal of the San Juan Islands, 8/11).

In the blog post, ACLU stated that PIMC "asserts that it offers prenatal services as well as 'ongoing pregnancy care' on site but consistently refuses to provide abortion services or even direct referrals to providers willing to provide abortion services," and thus the hospital district, via the contract with PIMC, is violating RPA (ACLU of Washington State blog, 8/10).

Further, ACLU stated, "Local access to reproductive healthcare is a particularly important issue to the San Juan community as San Juan Island is exactly that -- an island," adding, "The hospital district's failure to provide termination information and services limits reproductive health care access to women who already face barriers to care, including the isolated nature of the island and the costs of leaving (and returning to) the island to obtain care" (Journal of the San Juan Islands, 8/11).