Fewer abortions with hospital consolidations

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By AMY TAXIN, Associated Press

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) — By joining with a bigger Catholic health system, a prominent Orange County hospital hopes to enhance patients' access to a host of services — except one.

Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian started banning elective abortions this year after reaching an agreement to affiliate with St. Joseph Health.

The move has riled some doctors and women's advocates and prompted dueling rallies outside the hospital.

Similar clashes have occurred across the country as Catholic and non-Catholic hospitals strike deals in a wave of health care industry mergers.

Hoag's former president, Dr. Richard Afable, says the hospital took a closer look at its abortion practices because it was joining with a Catholic system and ceased performing them because they were being done infrequently at the hospital.

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