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America’s largest Catholic healthcare network partners with a women’s clinic that provides medical abortion drugs through virtual appointments and is actively working to expand abortion access in the United States, according to a new report from The Lepanto Institute.
CommonSpirit, America’s largest Catholic healthcare network, partnered with the women’s clinic Tia in March 2021. Just over a year later in May 2022, Tia announced that it was implementing “virtual medication abortion services” as one of its offerings.
Tia’s announcement came on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, putting an end to the constitutional protection for abortion rights in the United States. The company stated that it was ready to provide abortion access not only in California and New York, where it had operated before partnering with CommonSpirit, but also in Arizona, a state where it established a clinic with the support of the Catholic organization.
“We’re ready to do our part to support our patients with access to medication abortion via our virtual care team in California and New York, where it remains legal, and via a local care partner on-the-ground in Arizona, where we’ll continue to monitor local laws closely,” the company said.
Michael Hichborn, the President of the Lepanto Institute, believes “Tia is on its way to becoming Planned Parenthood 2.0” thanks to its partnership, and wants there to be consequences for the Catholic healthcare network.
“CommonSpirit is responsible for that, which is yet another reason why it must be stripped of its Catholic identity,” Hichborn said.
Arizona was the first state Tia expanded to after its partnership with CommonSpirit, which already had a large footprint in the state. The Catholic organization’s most recent tax forms reveal it has a 65% ownership stake in Tia’s Scottsdale, Arizona, clinic. The launch of the Arizona site was mentioned as the top priority when the partnership was first established in 2021.
“The deal enables the two healthcare leaders to launch Tia-branded women’s health clinics together that will provide comprehensive, blended virtual and in-person care — with plans for the first clinic in Phoenix where CommonSpirit operates multiple Dignity Health medical centers,” said a press release from the two companies at the time of the deal.
Tia’s website currently states that the clinic provides “medication abortion via a virtual visit in New York and California,” but does not make any mention of their operations in Arizona. Neither Tia nor CommonSpirit responded to requests for comment.
The Lepanto Institute, a Catholic organization “dedicated to the defense of the Catholic Church against assaults from without as well as from within,” says Tia began as a simple mobile app before establishing brick and mortar clinics. The app, called “Ask Tia,” was able to “answer questions about birth control, [and] sexual health,” and sought “to help young women better understand their health in a body-positive, sex-positive, judgment-free space.”
While the clinics abortion services were not offered until after the partnership, the Lepanto Institute says Tia’s views on abortion were apparent from the time of its founding in 2017.
“When CommonSpirit Health agreed to partner with Tia Women’s Health, there is no way it would not have known about Tia’s intention to eventually provide abortion as a “service,’” it argues.
The report from the Lepanto Institute points to Tia’s social media posts in 2019 stating its support for Roe v. Wade, more than two years before the partnership with CommonSpirit. “Choice over your own body and health is the foundation for equality,” a graphic posted by Tia reads.
In another 2019 post, Tia stated, “We are not able to provide abortion services at the Tia Clinic going out the gate, but we fully intend to in the future.”
The Lepanto Institute report notes that Tia’s co-founder and CEO Carolyn Witte spoke out in support of Planned Parenthood in 2015.
The Lepanto Institute argues that Tia would never have been able to grow to its current level without the boost from CommonSpirit.
“Through its partnership with CommonSpirit, Tia has gained access to women it never would have been able to access before,” the report states. “It has gained prestige and leverage for fundraising that would not otherwise have been so easily accessible, propelling what was little more than a birth control app to a $100 million operation.”
Tia’s partnership with CommonSpirit initially attracted criticism from media outlets on the Left, which raised questions about the partnership’s impact on Tia’s goal of providing abortions. The outlet, which refers to CommonSpirit as a “controversial partner,” pointed to the Catholic organization’s Statement of Common Values, which bar clinics from performing “elective” abortion treatments.
Witte insisted, however, that Tia would maintain “total control over the practice of medicine.”
The Lepanto Institute says it is pressing the Catholic Church “to formally investigate CommonSpirit Health and have it stripped of its Catholic identity.”
The Daily Wire previously reported that hospitals within CommonSpirit’s network provide transgender sex change operations, with one even receiving millions of dollars for a robot that assists with the surgeries. Dignity Health, another clinic that merged with CommonSpirit, provides employees with a healthcare plan that covers “transgender/gender dysphoria coverage/surgery,” which includes hormone therapy and “medically necessary gender-reassignment and reconstructive services.”
United State Catholic Bishops went on to vote to revise official directives to Catholic healthcare services, mandating that they not provide medical interventions that seek to change a patient’s sex.
CommonSpirit is officially recognized by the Catholic Church and the organization that sponsored CommonSpirit is considered “a public juridic person in the Church” and the “juridical equivalent of a diocese or parish or religious order in the Catholic Church.”