Faith-based Hospitals Limiting Access to Health Care Options

April 10, 2014

The Tulsa Interfaith Alliance actively supports the right of individuals and groups of individuals to practice their faith as they choose, and readily stands with the people of any faith who are limited in their ability to practice their faith because of government policy or inaction.  We also actively oppose the attempts of any individual or group of individuals to have the tenets of their faith imposed on those who do not practice that faith, especially when the faith of another is imposed through public policy.

Therefore, we are seriously concerned by recent reports of healthcare institutions affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church denying services to families needing the full range of legal reproductive health services, as well as the desire of some businesses to limit employer-provided health insurance to only cover medical practices in line with the religious beliefs of the business owner(s).

It is anathema to the compassionate practice of medicine for a woman experiencing a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy to be told that she must be transferred to another hospital to get the health care she needs.  In many rural communities, this would mean a woman and her family would need to travel an additional hour or more in order to get the health care that she needs to minimize the urgent and immediate risks to her health (including the possibility of death).

It is also unacceptable that a family must choose between employment opportunities and the availability of adequate health insurance.  A store clerk selling craft supplies should not have to adhere to the religious beliefs of the business owners in order to obtain insurance.

Those who are comfortable with these situations should ask themselves whether they would still be comfortable if religious beliefs with which they disagreed were imposed by those same entities.  For example, what if a Jewish-run hospital refused to provide reproductive services to any male who had not been circumcised?  Or what if a devout Buddhist vegetarian business owner provided insurance that would not cover heartburn medication for those who ate meat?

We, the Tulsa Interfaith Alliance, take seriously the responsibilities of the Establishment Clause contained in the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution, and invite people of all faiths (and no faith) to join us in opposing the attempts of any hospital, business, or other non-religious enterprise to force its religious practices and beliefs on those relying on their services.

  • Should religious institutions be allowed to operate public facilities? Hospitals are different from churches.  People expect to be treated in accordance with the teachings of the faith when they enter a church, but they do not expect that when entering a hospital.  When entering a hospital, people expect to be treated in accordance with the teachings of the Hippocratic Oath.
  • If someone disagrees with teachings of a particular faith, they are free to attend a different church (or no church). However, those options are rarely available in healthcare
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