At the same time Rick Santorum is counselling even married couples against using birth control, The New York Times has a story online looking at the tension between financially strapped secular hospital systems seeking to merge with successful Catholic Church-affiliated heath care systems and the restrictions that come with such deals.
“Catholic Hospitals Expand, Religious Strings Attached,” by Reed Abelson, notes Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear stopped a merger between Denver-based Catholic Health Initiatives and University of Louisville Hospital in part because of concerns that CHI would ban most reproductive services at the publicly funded safety net hospital.
Which is a bit of a curious – some would say “brave” – stand for a guy who’s pushing a fundamentalist Ark Park.
All this has to be viewed in the frame of President Obama’s recent kerfuffle with conservative Catholics after the federal government tried to make religious institutions cover birth control for their employees. An issue itself which should be viewed through the lens of the evolution (can we legally use that word anymore?) in the eliefs and the personal practices of Roman Catholic familes, the vast majority of whom use birth control.
A reality that seems to be chaning the tenor of the debate in other places, according to the Times piece. Though not here:
One large system, Catholic Healthcare West in San Francisco, announced in January that it was severing its formal ties to the church to better work with hospitals that did not share its faith. The system, renamed Dignity Health, operates 25 Catholic hospitals, which will remain Catholic, and 15 non-Catholic hospitals. While none of Dignity’s hospitals will provide elective abortions or offer in vitro fertilization, the non-Catholic hospitals will not have to adhere to the church’s religious directives.
That’s a far cry from CHI’s stance, where executives say in the story there was never a possibility that University Hospital would be allowed to perform services such as elective sterilizations.
“Our position around the ethical and religious directives never changed. How we communicated that evolved and changed over time,” said Paul Edgett, a senior vice president at the system. Mr. Edgett says the system will consider future partnerships with non-Catholic hospitals, including University Hospital, as it seeks to position itself as a stronger system as health care evolves. “We all have to adopt and adapt,” he said. But, he added, “we’re not going to compromise our values in the process.”