ACLU to Local Hospital Board in WA: Your Agreement with Catholic Hospital is Unconstitutional

On January 3, 2013, the ACLU of Washington State advised the hospital board of San Juan Island that the 50-year subsidy agreement it had entered into with PeaceHealth, a Catholic Health Ministry, is likely unconstitutional and unlawful.

Here’s a key passage:

“As a government entity, the San Juan County Public Hospital District is bound by the Washington Constitution.  The Washington Constitution provides that “no public money or property” shall be used to support “any religious establishment.” (Article I, Section 11)  By providing an annual subsidy to PeaceHealth, the Hospital District is impermissibly supporting the religious restrictions on reproductive and end-of-life health services.”

….

“In sum, government cannot subsidize health care facilities that deny reproductive health services to the community based on its religious views.  The County must insist that, in order to receive public funds, PeaceHealth or other medical facilities provide access to contraceptive services and abortion and that their policies be based on medical ethics and state law, not religious doctrine.”

 

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