Thursday, December 17, 2015

Groups Question Walgreen's Project With Catholic Health Care Clinics

On Monday, a group of 19 advocacy organizations sent a letter (full text) to Walgreen Co. questioning the announced plans of Walgreen to partner with a Catholic health care system in opening clinics in 25 Walgreen's drug stores in Washington and Oregon. The letter, signed by groups such as the ACLU, Lambda Legal, NARAL and Planned Parenthood affiliates, said in part:
We appreciate Walgreens’s objective to provide customers with convenient access to basic health services. However, as Providence is a religious health system, we are very concerned that these clinics will limit patients’ access to important health services. Customers or patients who request services at these clinics or at Walgreens’s pharmacies are entitled to assurances that the services, information, and referrals they receive will not be restricted by religious doctrine.
As you are likely aware, Providence is a Catholic health care system that is required to follow the Ethical and Religious Directives (“ERDs”) promulgated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. These directives forbid or severely restrict critical reproductive and end-of-life health care services at Catholic health facilities, including contraception, abortions, fertility treatments, vasectomies, tubal ligations, aid in dying,  and advance directives that are contrary to Catholic teachings. Some religious health systems also restrict the information and referrals that their health providers are allowed to give to patients. Adherence to the ERDs also increases the likelihood that LGBTQ individuals and their families will face discrimination in seeking to access health care services consistent with their medical needs.
Think Progress reported on the letter.