In a recent press release, the Freedom From Religion Foundation made it crystal clear that they’re willing to fight to keep medical care equitable and secular — particularly in Washington State, where several once-secular hospitals have entered into mergers with Catholic care providers.
The press release details the fundamental reason why FFRF has gotten involved:
Catholic hospitals refuse to give patients the medical treatment they need if the treatment does not conform to their interpretation of a 2,000-year-old holy book. Women are denied abortions; transgender people are denied the resources they need to transition; the sick and elderly are denied end-of-life treatment; and nobody will be given proper access to birth control. Hospitals plagued by Catholic dogma will also potentially discriminate against people because of their marital status and sexual orientation.
To kick off their fight against the growing problem, FFRF contacted Governor Jay Inslee and the Washington State Department of Health, asking for an intervention in the matter. You can read FFRF’s letter here (PDF).
Catholic hospital networks are required to follow a list of Ethical and Religious Directives released by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, regardless of the religious beliefs or preferences expressed by doctors and patients. When only 16% of Washington residents are Roman Catholic, according to FFRF’s figures, the recent increases in the number of Catholic hospitals has the practical consequence of forcing Catholic dogma on a largely un-Catholic population. (That’s to say nothing of the many practicing Catholics who quietly ignore official Church teachings on a wide range of relevant subjects, like birth control or acceptance of LGBT families.)
FFRF attorney Andrew Seidel may have said it best: “Do not endanger patients by putting religious beliefs before providing the best possible medical care.”
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