Cochise Citizens for Patients’ Rights (CCPR), a group of retirees, community activists and doctors in Southern Arizona, formed when the local hospital, Sierra Vista Regional Health Center (“the Hospital”), announced plans to affiliate with the Carondelet Health, a Catholic system. The deal, finalized in April 2010, required the Hospital to follow the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, and eliminated comprehensive reproductive health services such as surgical sterilization, contraceptive services, and the prompt treatment of pregnancy complications in this rural community.

With the assistance of MergerWatch, CCPR has rallied, marched, organized, and held countless meetings in an effort to draw attention to the harm of the affiliation. The Arizona Attorney General (AG) began investigating the deal after the National Women’s Law Center filed a complaint alleging that the Board violated its duty to the community when it entered into a deal that eliminated access to certain services. Just days after Religion & Ethics Newsweekly aired a feature about the affiliation, the Board of the Hospital announced that it was ending the affiliation agreement. In the words of the brave doctor who first took a stand against the deal with Carondelet Health, “the women in Sierra Vista can once again get the health care they need and deserve.”

We hope that other nonsectarian hospitals will take notice of this coordinated grassroots organizing, media, and legal effort, and think twice before entering into partnerships that harm wome’’s health. Time to celebrate!

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