BURLINGTON, Vermont — Abortions will still not take place at a Catholic-owned facility after the University of Vermont Medical Center said it will offer elective abortion procedures, ending a 45-year-old policy.
The Burlington Free Press reports the hospital’s board voted unanimously to approve the change in September.
Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington spokeswoman Ellen Kane says the reversal comes as a surprise. Covenant Health, a Catholic health network, owns UVM Medical Center’s Fanny Allen Campus. Kane says abortion will still be prohibited at the campus.
A UVM Medical Center spokeswoman says the reversal wasn’t publicly disclosed because of hospital policy.
“We’re not wanting to tell UVM Medical Center how to do their business, but what’s so surprising is there was no public disclosure, especially in Vermont where you can’t change a light bulb without a meeting,” Kane told the newspaper.
Kane said UVM Medical Center signed an agreement with Covenant Health which guaranteed the Fanny Allen Campus would be governed by Catholic ethical principles.
“We got recent confirmation, but it was verbal, that the lease on the Fanny Allen Campus will be honored,” Kane told the Burlington Free Press. “I talked to Covenant Health and they said they got reassurance.”
Board Chairwoman Allie Stickney says the hospital’s abortion policy was implemented before the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade which legalized the procedure.
The hospital changed its policy at the request of its medical staff. Stickney says the board wanted to honor its staff’s recommendation.
Crux staff contributed to this report.