UPMC employees call for leaders to take firm stance on abortion

A group of employees at Pittsburgh-based UPMC have issued a plea to the health system to do more to help protect abortion access in Pennsylvania, public radio station WESA reported July 15.

The plea comes nearly a month after the Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade June 24, a decision that returns the authority to regulate abortion to states.     

Now about 1,200 UPMC staff, along with 600 University of Pittsburgh students and faculty, signed an open letter received by the health system July 14 that states, "We as a health system are in danger of complicity with forces that politicize this healthcare issue at the expense of our patients and their families," according to WESA.

In a statement shared with Becker's, a UPMC spokesperson acknowledged that the Supreme Court decision has created confusion and anxiety for many of the organization's patients, health plan members, healthcare providers and staff.

"UPMC remains committed to providing the full continuum of women's health services, including safe patient-centric reproductive care, in accordance with all applicable laws and with the highest ethical and medical standards," the statement said. "How those laws evolve will ultimately be decided by voters and the courts. We respect the diverse views shaping this debate, and we will take appropriate steps to continue promoting high-quality, evidence-based reproductive care for our patients and members that we serve."

But the group of UPMC staff wants the health system to take more actions. According to WESA, these include a public statement that addresses the availability of abortion at UPMC facilities, as well as convening a multidisciplinary panel that would focus on operational strategies and clinical decision protocols "in the event of laws criminalizing abortion in [Pennsylvania]."

Currently, abortion is legal in Pennsylvania up to the 24th week after the last menstrual period, or later if the mother's life or health is endangered, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research organization. Additionally, a parent must consent before a minor receives an abortion.

UPMC has 92,000 employees.

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