Gov. Steve Beshear must say no when it comes to the merger of University Hospital, Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's HealthCare and St. Joseph Health System because it jeopardizes the separation of church and state, contends a lengthy editorial in The Courier-Journal. (C-J photo of University Hospital by John Rott)
The merger would mean the University of Louisville's hospital, a public institution, would be subject to Catholic health directives because St. Joseph is owned by Catholic Health Initiatives. "The result of merger would be that this community's public hospital, built only after voters approved a bond issue for its initial funding and with millions of taxpayer dollars flowing into it for decades, would be bartered away without public input, open bidding or any other formal procedures, to a religious group that limits standard medical care based on religious dogma," the editorial reads.
In order to take place, the merger requires the green light from Beshear, who must not give it, the editorial argues. Instead, he must remember when "he recognized the problem with posting the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms" while he was attorney general 30 years ago. "He needs to recall that brave and principled stance and tell U of L that no, you cannot sell the people's hospital to a religious organization."
The editorial, which took up the vast majority of the Sunday paper's Forum section, not the usual space on the first inside page of the section, also points out there is no other church-state medical complex anywhere else in the county because "it's unconstitutional."
The editorial also contends the merger is discriminatory. If it were to go through, women who have given birth to a baby at University Hospital would have to be taken to Baptist East Hospital if they wanted to receive a tubal ligation, a procedure that is often performed after a birth. "It is a deplorable solution to a problem that shouldn't exist to begin with," the editorial reads. "And it won't exist if Gov. Beshear has the sense and courage to reject this misbegotten scheme." (Read more)