September 21, 2018
Dear Deputy Attorney General Horwitz,
Women’s March San Luis Obispo is a non-profit organization with the mission of promoting women’s rights, human rights, and social and environmental justice for all people.
Today, we want to express our concern about the impact the proposed merger will have on reproductive health services, health services for LGBTQIA+ patients, in particular transgender patients, and end-of-life care services. We believe that all patients should have equal access to reproductive health services and gender-affirming care, as well as legally authorized medical aid in dying.
We ask that you ensure our community has access to the full range of care based on medical standards under California law, not restricted by religious beliefs. We ask that there will be no rollback in existing services, and respectfully request addition of services that are currently not provided due to religious directives.
According to the Health Impact Report, prepared for the office of the California Attorney General, the boards of directors of Dignity Health passed a resolution on April 20, 2017 that cited the intention to combine Dignity Health and CHI into a new nationwide health system that would:
– Serve as an unprecedented platform to further Catholic identity and the Catholic health ministry;
– Provide an opportunity for Dignity Health and CHI’s employees, physicians, partners and people in the communities served by Dignity Health and CHI to experience and participate in the enhanced Catholic health ministry;
Also according to the Health Impact Report, “Dignity Health California hospitals that are non-Catholic shall retain their identity as community hospitals and shall not become ministries of the Catholic Church, nor be subject to the ERDs. In addition, they will retain or adopt Dignity Health’s Statement of Common Values.” However, the Statement of Common Values already forbids direct abortion, reproductive technologies in which conception occurs outside a woman’s body, including in-vitro fertilization, and medical aid in dying. According to the Health Impact Report, French hospital does not provide gender-affirming care, emergency contraception as emergency room or inpatient service, or ectopic pregnancy treatment with methotrexate (medication in lieu of surgery), and placement of IUD is only performed rarely.
If French hospital, and other non-Catholic hospitals are to be truly non-Catholic, then we respectfully request that no restrictions based on Catholic Church directives are imposed on any services.
According to the Health Impact Report, “IHO reserves the right to approve changes of non-Catholic hospitals, its subsidiaries and its joint ventures. Changes include changing the mission or philosophical direction of entities, and approval or removal of entities under IHO.”
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops have recently approved a new edition of the rules governing collaborations between Catholic and non-Catholic organizations. The revised directives state that in any type of collaboration, everything the Catholic organization controls by acquisition, governance or management, “must be operated in full accord with the moral teaching of the Catholic Church.” Additional language bars establishing an independent entity to “oversee, manage, or perform immoral procedures.”
Based on this information, we are deeply concerned that if church authorities later found the proposed arrangement unethical, some or all of the non-Catholic hospitals could be severed from the combined CHI-Dignity system, or forced to follow the Ethical and Religious Beliefs, thus restricting access to health care for many, placing undue burden especially on women and LGBTQIA+ community.
Every person, regardless of income, location or gender identity, should have access to quality reproductive healthcare services, birth control, HIV/AIDS care and prevention, and medically accurate sex and reproductive health education. Our community – and every community – deserves access to evidence-based standards of medical care, adopted by the major professional medical associations, not constricted by religious beliefs. Dignity Health receives public funds to serve and provide health services to general public. We ask that Attorney General requires this institution to refrain from imposing non-medical restrictions on care and interfering in the patient-provider relationship.
Thank you for your time and attention.
Women’s March San Luis Obispo Organizers