The largest Catholic healthcare network in the United States is partnered with a women’s clinic that provides medication abortion drugs through virtual appointments, according to a new report.
According to Catholic research and education group The Lepanto Institute, the largest U.S. Catholic healthcare network, partnered with women’s clinic Tia in March 2021. In May 2022, Tia announced that it was offering “virtual medication abortion services” in the wake of the leaked Supreme Court decision that indicated a likely reversal of Roe v. Wade.
“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 in a June posting on the platform then known as Twitter when Roe was overturned.
“Tia is on its way to becoming Planned Parenthood 2.0,” Michael Hichborn, president of The Lepanto Institute, said. “CommonSpirit is responsible for that, which is yet another reason why it must be stripped of its Catholic identity.”
Following its partnership with CommonSpirit, Arizona was the first state Tia expanded into, and the Catholic organization’s most recent tax forms show it has a 65% ownership stake in Tia’s clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona. The launch of the Arizona clinic was identified as a top priority when the partnership was established two years ago.
“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,” a joint press release read.
According to The Lepanto Institute, Tia began as a mobile app before moving into physical offices. Called “Ask Tia,” the app 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.”
Although Tia did not offer abortion services until after the partnership with CommonSpirit, the report from the Catholic organization argues that the clinic’s perspective was evident from the start.
“Choice over your own body and health is the foundation for equality,” one post on the platform then known as Twitter said in 2019.
In another post from 2019, Tia said, “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 report also notes that Tia’s co-founder and CEO Carolyn Witte voiced support for Planned Parenthood in 2015.
The Lepanto Institute claims that Tia would not have been able to get to where it is today without help 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.”
The institute says it is urging the Catholic Church “to formally investigate CommonSpirit Health and have it stripped of its Catholic identity.”
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