And they’re arguing that the real issue is the separation of church and state.
Opponents say they have not exhausted their options for fighting a proposal to build a Catholic hospital on the grounds of Montgomery College in Germantown, despite approval of the plan last week by the state Board of Public Works.
The three-member board voted Wednesday to allow Montgomery College to lease land to Holy Cross Hospital for a new 93-bed, $202-million hospital. Holy Cross, which already has a location in Silver Spring, could break ground this fall and finish the project by 2014.
The planned hospital must still be approved by the county Planning Board — a process that will give opponents another chance to testify against the project, which was approved in January by the Maryland Health Care Commission after a more-than-two-year competition with another hospital proposal.
The project has been criticized by women’s groups and others who contend the college could violate separation-of-church-and-state laws by leasing public land to Holy Cross, which typically refuses on religious grounds to perform abortions and infertility treatments or provide birth control.
“It would be the first hospital built in more than 30 years in Montgomery County and would not provide the full range of services to patients,” said Beth Corbin, field director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
She said her group, which testified at the Wednesday public works meeting, will continue its opposition and is “weighing its options,” but declined to say whether it will initiate legal action to block the project.
A piece of hospital trivia: the original Holy Cross hospital is where Gov. George Wallace was taken and treated after the attempt on his life in 1972.