A bill, proposed by Democratic senators in Washington state, seeks to halt mergers involving hospitals which are religiously affiliated if the deals would limit access to abortion care.

When Tacoma-based CHI Franciscan merged with Virginia Mason Swedish Medical Center, and Swedish Medical Center became affiliated with Providence Health & Services, these faith-based hospitals stopped offering abortion services. Sen. Emily Randall said that she will reintroduce the Senate Bill 5688 in the next legislative session which aims to block proposed mergers between hospitals if they would limit abortion services.

Axios Seattle further reported:

This year’s Senate Bill 5688 aimed to give the state attorney general the power to block hospital mergers if they would limit access to abortion care, gender-affirming health care or physician-assisted suicide.

Opponents of SB 5688 said the bill would impose onerous requirements that would hinder small medical providers’ ability to partner with larger systems, making it harder for them to stay afloat.

The bill died in the Senate Law and Justice Committee this year. Dhingra and Randall said they are also are looking at ways to protect Washington doctors from the reach of other laws that seek to criminalize abortion. State officials expect an influx of abortion patients coming from out of state, and are looking at legislation to protect those patients from legal liability as well, Dhingra said.