Why Medicine and Religion Don’t Mix

The Courier-Journal editorial board is never going to get on board with the proposed merger that would put U of L Hospital under the jurisdiction of an owner whose policies on medicine are determined by the Catholic Church. I’m not, either.

The story is a big deal in the paper, as it should be, the latest being an editorial this morning applauding Jack Conway for stepping into the fray. He announced yesterday that the state would have something to say about the proposed merger. Mayor Fischer is expressing concern on behalf of Metro Government. As a public hospital funded in part with public money from the city and state, U of L knows it can’t simply take the money (that it sorely needs) from Catholic Health Initiatives and change its operating policies.

If the paper and politicians just got out of the way, the merger would go through unchallenged and the policy-making based on religion in the publicly-funded facility would go forward. That would eliminate the opportunity for women to get certain procedures – the most-discussed is tubal ligations, but it’s not the only controversial procedure — at U of L. That’s the story that’s dominating the merger discussion, not the positives that U of L would like for you to be hearing.

So why is the hospital so determined to push the merger through? As always, it’s about the money. CHI’s infusion of capital would solve a multitude of financial problems for the University, and provide the Hospital with an opportunity to move forward in a number of vital areas. The school says it has lawyers working on a new plan that would satisfy the politicians, journalists and advocates.

But that’s going to be a hard sell, no matter what they come up with. Policies determined by a church, any church, have no place in medicine or in a public hospital. When the merger was announced, it’s hard to believe that officials involved didn’t anticipate any public resistance.  U of L faces an uphill battle getting the merger approved.