CATHOLIC HOSPITAL MERGERS: Access to Reproductive Health Services Is the Issue
The struggle to obtain reproductive health services "has shifted from the halls of justice to the halls of medical centers and hospitals," Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl (D-Encino) writes in Sunday's Los Angeles Times. Through the "merger-mania" in managed care, Kuehl argues that religious organizations that oppose many reproductive services, "having failed in the courts, are utilizing a back-door method to achieve the same goal -- closing out access." The "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care" that Catholic hospitals follow -- like the behemoth Catholic Healthcare West chain -- are thrust upon secular hospitals as a "condition of sale," she asserts. Kuehl says "it is imperative to organize California's health care system so that those without the means to pay extra for reproductive health services are ensured uninterrupted access and complete access." She concludes that AB 525, which she introduced in the state Assembly, "simply restores what most Californians believe to be a fact: that patients receiving health care, either paid for by the state or by themselves, will be able to secure the reproductive health care services they need, when they need them, while respecting individual conscience." Women deserve the certainty that "hard-won rights do not disappear, one hospital at a time" (4/18).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.