The general public has been hearing about this hospital merger for a while now, and most of the noise-making has been done by individuals opposed to it. For good reason. The idea that the city’s public hospital (University Hospital), the one that is the last resort for the poor and the one supported by millions of state and city tax dollars, would operate under directives established by a religious organization, is just not acceptable.
Yesterday, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, the highest-ranking local Catholic official, said in a speech at the Rotary Club that he expects any merged health care organization under the direction of Catholic Health Initiatives (the Denver-based group attempting to make the merger happen) to operate under the Catholic health care directives, which restrict services such as abortion, tubal ligation and sterilization.
From a column published yesterday in The Record, the Catholic newspaper:
“We do not believe, for example, that the destruction of the womb serves mothers, children or families and we do not see this as a legitimate health care service. Does it truly serve the common good to require us or any health care provider to violate important issues of conscience or principle in order to provide for the health of persons within our community.”
That’s an idea that’s just not going to fly in the public arena, and does much to damage the chances of the proposed merger ever happening. And Kurtz himself, along with his counterpart in Lexington, has to OK the deal.
I don’t think they’ll ever get a chance. Attorney general Jack Conway says the merger will require state approval, which is unlikely unless the Hospital can come up with a solution. Dr. Edward Halperin, asked by the C-J about Kurtz’s comments, said he wasn’t surprised and that services in question would be “available from my faculty” at some location.
Perhaps U of L has a plan to perform the services at a different location, but anything the Hospital and University come up with, at this point, will attract plenty of scrutiny.