The deal is done, but no word yet on the fate of reproductive health and other care standards Catholic-run hospitals are allowed to ignore.
As reported in Crain’s Detroit Business on Monday, Crittenton Hospital in Rochester is now officially part of Ascension Health Michigan. Ascension Health is the largest nonprofit health system in the U.S. — and a Catholic-affiliated health system that adheres to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (“the Directives“).
The Directives governing Catholic hospitals are written by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Not doctors dictating care. Not patients dictating care. Bishops dictating care.
I’ve written in my ongoing series here about the risk of letting religious principles override standards of medical care — standards every hospital must meet, except for Catholic-affiliated hospitals. Catholic health systems are exempt from adhering to accepted standards of care based on religious doctrine.
Catholic hospitals don’t have to perform certain procedures if they don’t want to. No birth control, no vasectomies or “getting your tubes tied,” no abortion — even if the health of the mother is at risk. There’s other vague language about religious exemptions that could put other patient rights at risk, including the right to make their own end-of-life decisions.
Even more troubling, Catholic health systems are buying up struggling secular hospitals like Crittenton at an alarming rate. Depending on where you live, there may not be a hospital within a reasonable distance that isn’t Catholic-affiliated.
Despite the concerns of many in the community — including the ACLU of Michigan and others — and despite other merger or acquisition offers it received — Crittenton Hospital chose Ascension Health. So Crittenton is no longer an independent hospital. It’s now affiliated with the Catholic Church.
If the “standard” at other Catholic-affiliated hospitals is any indication, there will be some healthcare services you can no longer get at Crittenton Hospital. Even in an emergency, you may not receive the care you need. So patients, beware. Ask in advance if you possibly can.
More to come on this. In the meantime: If you’re concerned about women’s reproductive justice (and you should be), save the date for the second annual Lady Parts Justice Michigan V to Shining V event in Detroit on September 26th from 3-6 p.m. Full disclosure, I’m helping spread the word about this fun, fabulous feminist gathering, so say you’ll be there, follow us on FB and stay tuned for updates on FB and right here at Eclectablog!
[Photo by Kim Hill via Flickr.]