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Swedish Hospital merges with Providence Hospital and discontinues elective abortions on February 29, 2000.
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On February 29, 2000, Seattle's Swedish Hospital merges with Providence Hospital and discontinues elective abortions. The decision is a dealmaker between the secular Swedish Hospital and the Catholic-run Providence Hospital. In joining forces with the Catholic hospital, Swedish, the largest hospital in the state of Washington, gains ownership of Providence Medical Center, Jefferson Medical Tower, and nine clinics. The merger generates a joint company for billing and other administration, which cuts the financially ailing Providence's overhead.
The decision was controversial. Religious control over a large secular institution raised the hackles of local women's and civil rights advocates. Karen Cooper, executive director of NARAL (the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Act League), declared Swedish Hospital's concession "absolutely ridiculous, obscene, that a religious organization can dictate medical practices to the entire community of Seattle."
Swedish Hospital, licensed for 860 beds, continues to provide tubal ligations, vasectomies, contraception, and the morning after pill. To prevent any financial gain from these practices that run counter to Vatican dictates, the local archbishop recommended an "alienation of property."
Kim Barker, "Swedish Will Drop Elective Abortions to Seal Deal," The Seattle Times, March 1, 2000 (www.seattletimes.com); Tyrone Beason, "Economics of Hospital Merger: Little choice in 'Severe Marketplace,'" The Seattle Times, March 1, 2000 (www.seattletimes.com).
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