June 20, 2012
Teresa Younger, Executive Director
Permanent Commission on the Status of Women
18-20 Trinity St.
Hartford CT 06106
Dear Ms. Younger:
The League of Women Voters of Connecticut would like to express appreciation for the informational hearing
on June 11, 2012, sponsored jointly by PCSW, the Comptroller and the Public Health Committee Co-Chairs on the proposed acquisition and merger by LHP, Inc. of Waterbury Hospital and Saint Mary’s Hospital.
The League of Women Voters believes that public policy in a pluralistic society must affirm the constitutional right of privacy of the individual to make reproductive choices. The League of Women Voters of Connecticut is deeply concerned that the proposed merger will have a significant adverse impact on women's access to reproductive healthcare.
Under the proposed terms, the merged hospital would follow the “Ethical and Religious Directives” of the U.S.
Conference of Catholic Bishops—preventing women in the greater Waterbury area from receiving services that are part of normal women’s reproductive healthcare, such as post-partum tubal ligations. Other healthcare services, such as contraceptive services and counseling, pregnancy terminations and infertility services, also would be banned in the only remaining Waterbury hospital.
The proposed merger terms set up a false conflict between the economic recovery hopes of Waterbury and the need to preserve healthcare access for women. The testimony by Merger Watch pointed to successful models implemented elsewhere, including in New York, of the compromise essential for a Catholic hospital to complete a business consolidation with a non-religious hospital while protecting patients’ rights and access to care.
Connecticut regulators have a responsibility to ensure that Waterbury residents continue to receive an
acceptable standard of healthcare services within their own community. Preserving comprehensive women’s
reproductive health services should be an essential component of any hospital combination.
Very truly yours,
Cheryl Dunson, President and Alison Rivard, Director of Social Policy
Cc: Office of the Governor, Comptroller Kevin Lembo, Sen. Theresa Gerratana, Rep. Betsy Ritter