Catholic Ethical & Religious Directives Restrict Reproductive, End-of-Life Care
January 14, 2016 - The ACLU of Oregon and 12 other public interest organizations sent Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum a letter urging her to reject a request for a waiver from the standard process for reviewing merger transactions by the nation’s 6th largest nonprofit hospital system, Providence Health & Services, and St. Joseph Health.
“This proposed transaction involves eight hospitals across Oregon, and a total of almost 50 hospitals across six states [Alaska, California, Montana, Oregon, Texas, Washington],” the groups said in the letter sent to AG’s office on Jan. 8. “Even absent the transfer of assets, significant changes in health care delivery are likely to occur…it behooves the Attorney General to undertake the full review process to ensure that this transaction preserves existing health care services and benefits the public interest.”
St. Joseph and Providence are both Catholic health systems. Catholic hospitals must typically follow the Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs) promulgated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The ERDs many forbid reproductive health services, including all birth control methods, sterilization, miscarriage management, abortion, the least invasive treatments for ectopic pregnancies, and some infertility treatments. The ERDs provide no exceptions for risks to a patient’s health or even life.
In a letter emailed to Walgreens today, the 19 organizations sought to learn whether religious doctrine will limit access to important medical services, information, and referrals at the clinics operated by Providence Health & Services and its affiliate, Swedish Health Services, and will limit Walgreens’s pharmacies’ ability to fill prescriptions.