Assembly Approves Bill That Would Prevent Church-Owned Hospitals From Limiting Services Provided by Lessees
The Assembly on Thursday Thursday voted 45-24 to approve a bill (SB 932) that would prohibit churches or other not-for-profit groups that sell or lease hospitals from preventing the lessees from providing certain services, including abortion and distribution of contraceptives, the AP/Modesto Bee reports. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Debra Bowen (D-Marina del Rey), also would require the attorney general, who has veto power over the sale or lease of not-for-profit health facilities, to deny the transfer if the seller tries to restrict the type or level of medical services that the new operator could provide. Supporters of the bill, which the Senate last month voted 23-13 to approve, said that the measure is in response to recent sales of several Roman Catholic hospitals in which the sellers asked for contract conditions that would require the new operators to uphold the church's position on abortion, sterilization, birth control and some other procedures. Assembly member Dario Frommer (D-Los Angeles), who supports the legislation, said, "It's not just about reproductive services; it's about all services," adding, "Hospitals should be able to respond to those needs as they come up." But Assembly member Ray Haynes (R-Murietta), an opponent of the bill, said it could result in a hospital shortage. "You are literally giving them the choice of shutting down the hospital or not selling it," Haynes said. The bill now goes to Gov. Gray Davis (D) for consideration. Russ Lopez, a spokesperson for the governor, said that Davis has not taken a position on the bill but has supported abortion rights in the past (Lawrence, AP/Modesto Bee, 6/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.