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Democratic U.S. reps condemn Mercy Hospital’s plan to end female sterilization

Congressional Pro-choice Caucus members say denying birth control undermines Coloradans’ rights
Democratic U.S. representatives from Colorado, who are members of the Congressional Pro-choice Caucus, called out Mercy Hospital in a joint statement Thursday for its decision to stop providing tubal ligations, a birth control procedure, starting April 15. (Durango Herald file)
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Five Democratic U.S. representatives from Colorado issued a joint statement on Thursday decrying Mercy Hospital’s decision to stop providing tubal ligations, a form of permanent birth control, at the time of cesarean sections starting April 15.

Reps. Diana DeGette, Yadira Caraveo, Jason Crow, Joe Neguse and Brittany Petterson – all members of the Congressional Pro-choice Caucus co-chaired by DeGette – said in a joint statement that all residents of Colorado “deserve access to the full spectrum of reproductive health care,” including birth control.

“As the only hospital in Durango with a maternity ward, Mercy Hospital’s decision to no longer provide patients with tubal ligations, including after a C-section, undermines Coloradans’ right to access the care they need,” the statement says.


The joint statement highlights Colorado’s “long history of safeguarding patients’ right to reproductive care” and says patients living in rural areas are no exception.

“When the only hospital in town decides it will no longer offer a certain medical service, it takes away the right of patients in that area to make that decision for themselves,” the statement says.

Mercy is the only hospital with labor and delivery services within 45 miles of Durango. The Durango Herald reported in September that the hospital plans to do away with tubal ligations – a procedure often referred to as getting one’s tubes tied – in mid-April.

Dr. Krista Ault, a general practitioner at La Plata Family Medicine and former director of family medicine at Mercy, said in September some forms of contraception, such as vasectomies, have been off limits for as long as Centura Health has owned the hospital.

Exceptions will be made only for people who carry rare ovarian cancer or breast cancer genes, said Brie Todd, gynecologist at Four Corners OB/GYN, who said she was briefed about the new policy in August. Four Corners OB/GYN is an independent clinic that provides labor and delivery services at Mercy.

Centura Health and Mercy Hospital did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

The hospital decided to stop offering ligations because the procedure doesn’t align with Catholic values, Todd said.

“Medical decisions should be made between a patient and their provider, and no one else,” the joint statement from Pro-choice Caucus members says.

The representatives said Centura Health, Mercy’s parent company, should reconsider its policy to not provide permanent birth control.

Centura Health has served as a partnership between CommonSpirit Health, one of if not the largest Catholic health care institutions in the country, and AdventHealth, which is affiliated with the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

On Tuesday, Centura announced the partnership between the two health care giants will end. Mercy is among hospitals that will be managed by CommonSpirit Health.


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