Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Doctor Sues Over Hospital's Limits On Providing Aid-In-Dying Medications

Last month, a doctor and her terminally ill patient filed a lawsuit in a Colorado state court against Centura Health's St. Anthony Hospital challenging its religion-based policy of refusing to allow its physicians to prescribe medication for patients under the state's End of Life Options Act, or to assist in qualifying a patient for use of aid-in-dying medication. The complaint (full text) in Mahoney v. Morris, (CO Dist. Ct., filed 8/21/2019), alleges that the hospital's policy goes beyond the opt-out permitted by the Colorado statute which only permits hospitals to bar their physicians from writing prescriptions for assisted-suicide medications that will be used on hospital premises.

Last week, Centura Health fired plaintiff Dr. Barbara Morris, and filed a petition to remove the case to federal court, contending that the hospital, sponsored by Catholic and Seventh Day Adventist ministries, cannot be barred from dismissing an employee who violates its policy.  The Notice of Removal (full text) in Mahoney v. Morris, (D CO, filed 8/30/19) alleges that the hospital's rights under the Free Exercise and Establishment clauses would be violated if it cannot discipline its doctors for acting in opposition to its religious doctrines. It also invokes 42 U.S. Code § 2000e–1, the exemption from Title VII for religious institutions. Kaiser Health News reports on these developments. [Thanks to Michael Peabody for the lead.]