Univ. of CA May Harm Low-Income and LGBTQ Patients with Catholic Hospital Deal April 13, 2019

Univ. of CA May Harm Low-Income and LGBTQ Patients with Catholic Hospital Deal

Officials for the University of California are considering an “affiliation” between its San Francisco campus and a Catholic hospital system that routinely discriminates against women and LGBTQ people. The deal would forge an official relationship between UCSF’s teaching hospital and Dignity Health.

In a column for the Los Angeles Times, Michael Hiltzik says this merger shouldn’t even be considered: “The easy answer, and the right answer, is ‘no.'” He’s exactly right. The hospital’s insistence that religious dogma take precedence over the health care needs of patients — including women who need abortions for medical reasons, men who want vasectomies, couples seeking IVF treatments, and others — should make the arrangement a no-go for the public university.

Furthermore, the arrangement could help the faith-based acquisition model of healthcare actually grow.

Dignity’s adherence to Catholic Church directives affecting medical care, including a near-total ban on abortion, is hopelessly at odds with the values of a public institution such as UCSF. What’s worse, UCSF, by implicitly accepting Dignity’s model discriminating against women and LGBTQ patients, would empower that model’s expansion.

“It’s as if we would provide a crutch” for that model “not just to be sustained, but to grow, to flourish, to increase,” Vanessa Jacoby, an associate OB-GYN professor at UCSF, told the regents on Tuesday. She pointed out that the church restrictions fall disproportionately on low-income women and LGBTQ patients.

Judging from that meeting of the regents’ health services committee, UC’s governing board is flummoxed by the intricate ramifications of this proposal. The proposal also has roiled UCSF itself. While some of its clinicians are in favor of the arrangement, a petition drive in opposition has collected some 1,600 signatures from faculty, physicians, students, staff and alumni.

The worst thing about this unorthodox alliance is probably how little we know about it, according to Daniel Grossman, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UCSF.

Grossman points to one of the paramount problems with the proposal: The details are still not public. What is clear, however, is that UCSF faculty and doctors practicing at Dignity Health’s four Bay Area hospitals would be bound to comply at those locations with the Catholic Church’s restrictions on abortion, sterilization procedures, treatments of transgender patients, and other services. That should be a deal-breaker.

“Deal-breaker” is an understatement. This is completely unacceptable — and possibly even dangerous.

(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)

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