Religious accommodation or discrimination in health care services

Heather Greene —  January 8, 2017 — 29 Comments

PATERSON, N.J. – It was announced Jan. 5 that Lambda Legal had filed a federal lawsuit against New Jersey-based St. Joseph’s health care system, after “the hospital refused to allow Jionni Conforti’s surgeon to perform a routine hysterectomy because he is transgender.” St. Joseph’s maintains four top-ranked teaching facilities in northern New Jersey, but it also is “a Catholic faith-based institution” founded in 1867 by the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth. It is the medical center’s religious affiliation that has now come between Conforti and his medical procedures.


logo“No hospital should be allowed to decide who their patients are, particularly when they receive government funds. Denying care to someone at their time of need because of their sex or gender identity is not only dangerous and humiliating, it’s against the law,” said Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Omar Gonzalez-Pagan in a press release.

Founded in 1973, Lambda Legal is one of the top nonprofit organizations the mission of which “is to achieve full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV.”

According to Lambda Legal, in June 2015, Conofti received a letter from hospital representative Father Martin D. Rooney stating that the request to “remove all female parts” for the purposes of “gender reassignment” would not be permitted at its facilities due to St. Joseph’s being a Catholic hospital.

In its 2017 lawsuit, Lambda makes the argument that the denial of services is illegal on multiple counts. It argues that not only is Conforti’s procedure medically necessary, but also that it is contractually obligatory. The hospital allegedly violated expectations previously set, as well as ignoring the language in its own patient bill of rights, stating that patients have the right:

To treatment and medical services without discrimination based on race, age, religion, national origin, sex, sexual preferences, gender identity or expression, marital, domestic partnership, or civil union status, handicap, diagnosis, ability to pay, or source of payment.

Furthermore, the Lambda lawsuit goes on to state that the denial of services also violates both federal and state laws. Attorney Gonzalez-Pagan said, “In the United States, one in six hospital beds are in Catholic hospitals. These health-care providers must comply with federal and state anti-discrimination laws so that the health of LGBT people who walk through their doors is not endangered.”

The New Jersey lawsuit comes on the heels of a recent case heard in the U.S. district court in Wichita Falls, Texas. In that hearing, eight states and three private health-care providers challenged a rule change made to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Prior to July, section 1557 of the ACA’s nondiscrimination rules did not include language regarding gender identity or expression. The original provisions only included “race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.”

In a July 2016 memorandum, HHS expanded that language to include “a new prohibition of discrimination on the basis on sex in health programs and activities outside of educational institutions, which includes discrimination on the basis of sex stereotyping or gender identity.” It was this updated language with its new definition of “sex discrimination” that became the precipitous for the Texas hearing.

Franciscan Heath Crawford [By Huw Williams / Wikimedia]

Franciscan Heath Crawford [By Huw Williams / Wikimedia]

Like St. Joseph’s in the New Jersey lawsuit, all three private health-care providers in the Texas case are faith-based;  they include the Franciscan Alliance, Inc, its subsidiary Specialty Physicians of Illinois, LLC, and the Christian Medical and Dental Society (CMDA), which has locations across the country. All three reportedly receive some amount of government funding.

The individual states involved are Texas, Mississippi, Nebraska, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Arizona, and Kansas.

Judge Reed O’Connor recognized the complexity of the case, saying that “while this lawsuit involves many issues of great importance—state sovereignty, expanded healthcare coverage, anti-discrimination protections, and medical judgment—ultimately, the question before the court is whether defendants exceeded their authority under the ACA in the challenged regulations’ interpretation of sex discrimination and whether the regulation violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as applied to private plaintiffs”

Seeking an injunction, the plaintiffs claim that “the new [HHS] regulation will require them to perform and provide insurance coverage for gender transitions and abortions, regardless of their contrary religious beliefs or medical judgment.” (p. 2) They went on to argue that the change is inconsistent with other federal definitions of “sex discrimination,” as well as a being a violation of the federal RFRA. By forcing faith-based medical facilities to perform such procedures places a substantial burden on their sincerely held religious beliefs and, they argue that the enforcement of the new rule is an administrative overreach.

In the end, Judge O’Connor sided with the plaintiffs, granting them a preliminary injunction and enjoining the HHS from enforcing the new ACA rules. Why did the judge rule that way? We spoke with Pagan lawyer and author Dana Eilers, who explained: “At several crucial points in his analysis, Judge O’Connor points out some failings in the brief submitted by the defendants.”

Two of those failings are written as such:

Defendants have failed to brief the basis of its compelling interest, leaving the Court unable to determine whether Private Plaintiffs’ religious practices jeopardize its purpose. (p. 40)

The government has failed to demonstrate how exempting Private Plaintiffs pursuant to their religious beliefs would frustrate the goal of ensuring “nondiscriminatory access to health care and health coverage,” and the government has numerous less restrictive means available to provide access and coverage for transition and abortion procedures. (p. 42)

Judge O’Connor also points to the inconsistencies within the federal government’s definitions and positions with regard to these particular medical procedures saying, “The government’s own health insurance programs, Medicare and Medicaid, do not mandate coverage for transition surgeries; the military’s health insurance program, TRICARE, specifically excludes coverage for transition surgeries; and the government’s own medical experts reported “conflicting” study results of transition procedures.” (p. 41)

The Franciscan case was rushed through the courts in December so that a decision was made prior to the start of the 2017 insurance period. Now with injunction in place, these faith-based medical facilities can reject requests for transgender procedures and abortions based on their own religious belief.

Moreover, this new ruling could set a precedent, similar to that of the 2014 Hobby Lobby SCOTUS ruling. As noted by Lamda Legal, one in six U.S. medical facilities are faith-based. Health care and religion have been comfortable bedfellows since potentially the dawn of humanity, and a legal resolution will not come easy.

Returning to the New Jersey lawsuit, there are key differences in it and the Texas case, all of which could affect the outcome. First, there is an alleged contractual element between the patient and hospital. Secondly, and regardless of that point, there is a state sovereignty component suggested by the filing – one that was even suggested by Judge O’Connor.

While the HHS only recently added “gender identity” language to the ACA rules, some of the states already had it within their own discrimination laws. The New Jersey discrimination law, for example, is extensive and includes, in part, “race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, civil union status, domestic partnership status, affectional or sexual orientation, genetic information, pregnancy, sex, gender identity or expression, disability.” Not all states have the same regulations with regard to public accommodation.

Not surprisingly, the states involved in the Franciscan case do not have the same extensive language written into law. In fact, Texas doesn’t have discrimination laws at all. While the other seven states do, their laws do not include “gender identity” or similar language.

In addition, all eight states, with the exception of Nebraska and Wisconsin, have their own RFRAs, preventing the government from burdening “sincerely-held religious beliefs.” While Nebraska may not have an RFRA, it does include a religious preference clause protecting places of public accommodation, owned by religious entities, from being prosecuted for discrimination on the basis of their religious beliefs.

[Pixabay / Public Domain]

[Pixabay / Public Domain]

Why should Pagans, Heathens, and others in the minority religious sector be paying close attention to cases like these? Outside of the fact that there is definitive member crossover between such religious communities and the general LGBTQ+ community, the faith-based components alone could potentially pose future problems. Eilers explained, “This is about whether a health care provider can give you health care based on their beliefs. Suppose your Catholic doctor finds out that you are a Dianic Witch or a member of The Satanic Temple and says: ‘You are a devil worshiper, and I cannot treat you.’ ”

Eilers goes on to say, “This is the same kind of slippery slope that we were at in the Jim Crow era when we were talking about black people being able to eat at lunch counters. We all have to fill out those intake forms at doctor offices. What religion are you? Can we tell the truth, or do we have to say other in order to get medical treatment?”

While neither the New Jersey lawsuit nor the Franciscan hearing involve Pagans specifically, there are strong religious undercurrents in many of prominent social battles being waged at this time, all of which could potentially affect members of minority groups. These legal wranglings demonstrate a teeter-totter, push and pull with religious belief at the pivotal point, and they bare watching as the overall U.S. political climate shifts.

Eilers went to on to say, “Suppose that I, as a Pagan doctor, believe that having more than two children is a sin against the planet because Mother Earth cannot support the population? According to this Franciscan case, I could refuse to treat the presenting parents and child number, number four, et cetera. I could refuse to treat the Duggars and all their brood.”

These laws go all ways. She then added, “If the court were to say, ‘no, Pagan doctor, you must treat the Duggars,’ then we have a violation of the First Amendment establishment clause, because a Christian viewpoint is being exalted, whereas my Pagan viewpoint is being ground into the dirt.”

As Eilers best said, this is a slippery slope, one that is not going to go away any time soon. Not only was a precedent set by the Franciscan case, it also clearly illustrated the inconsistencies within the federal government itself with regard to defining “sex discrimination.” That is a matter that, as Eilers said, would ultimately have to be addressed and clarified by Congress.

Could the decision in the Franciscan hearing affect the New Jersey lawsuit? At this point, it is unknown. Eilers speculates that if the two decisions are in direct conflict, there a small potential that the subject could eventually be taken up by SCOTUS. Time will tell.

In all the above discussions and the legalese, there is nothing that addresses something more basic: the ethics of denying medical care to someone in need, or even in crisis. How would an emergency situation play out? That is question that still needs to be asked of these hospitals. Would you deny life-saving medical care to a transgender patient?

For the time being, the only solution for those, like Jionni Conforti and others who could face denial of services due to the religious convictions of a local hospital or medical center, is to know your patient rights, know your doctor and the facility, and get everything in writing.

 *   *   *

The Wild Hunt would like to thank Dana Eilers for her time and expertise in the analysis of the noted legal hearing and lawsuit. Eilers is a retired lawyer and the author of Pagans and the Law.  On WitchVox, she offers a white paper detailing “Brief Points for Modern Pagans.”

Heather Greene

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Heather is a freelance writer, film historian, and journalist, living in the Deep South. She has collaborated with Lady Liberty League on religious liberty cases, and formerly served as Public Information Officer for Dogwood Local Council and Covenant of the Goddess. She has a masters degree in Film Theory, Criticism and History from Emory University with a background in the performing and visual arts. Heather's book on witches in American film and television will be published by McFarland in 2018.
  • Tauri1

    “We all have to fill out those intake forms at doctor offices. What religion are you? Can we tell the truth, or do we have to say other in order to get medical treatment?”

    None of the doctors I have ever gone to have asked me what my religion is or whether I even had one. Furthermore, having gone to a Catholic hospital, they did not ask me what religion I was either, and IF those forms did happen to have that question on it I would have either left it blank or written NOYB (none of your business) on it. Similarly, I am quite incensed when they ask me what “race” I am. There’s only one human “race” on this planet: Homo Sapiens Sapiens (although I am doubtful about the “sapiens” part). Instead I write either “Tauri” (from Startgate) or “Terran” or just plain “Human”.

    • kenofken

      I’ve never had a doctor’s office ask that question, but I have encountered it more than once in hospital admission forms or pre-surgical forms where a hospital stay is a possibility. It was always paired with a second question which asked if you would want chaplain visits, so that seemed to be the purpose of the question.

      This is a real issue, and one which extends not only to Pagans and LGBT people, but anyone who values their own autonomy in health decisions. The problem isn’t so much that religiously affiliated health systems will ask you your religion and use it against you. The problem is that they don’t care what your beliefs are and they reserve the right to impose their religion on you in the delivery of medial care.

      Not a lot of people realize this, but Catholic hospitals are bound by directives from the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops which, among other things, demands that doctors ignore patients advance directives when they conflict with church teaching. That means that if you don’t want a feeding tube installed to prolong your life in a vegetative state, even if you have it in writing, that wish will be ignored if you end up in a Catholic institution, which is very often the only facility in rural areas. This isn’t a matter of elective procedures where one might have the luxury of shopping around in advance, inasmuch as no one has foresight or control over exactly when and where they will have a permanently disabling stroke or accident.

      This is not a small deal, and it’s going to get much worse with the passage of a federal “religious freedom” law which will seek to legalize and legitimize religious based discrimination in all areas of life.

      • Tauri1

        Not disagreeing with you at all.

      • g75401

        Actually, I’d be surprised if you found a doctor willing to supercede a living will. Doctors are not employed by hospitals and no hospital is going to pay a doctor’s legal bills when they assault a patient by performing an unauthorized procedure. Feeding tubes are a perfect example. They are futile care. They do not prolong life. I’m not going to risk my medical license by insisting a patient gets one over protests from the patient, via a living will or power of attorney, or the patient’s family. In fact, in my old Catholic hospital, I admitted a lady for dehydration and dementia. Her living will expressly forbade a feeding tube. Her son insisted and flew to Houston from Seattle. I showed him her living will. He relented once he saw it and the hospital was aware of what was going on. I never had anyone from administration insist a feeding tube should be placed.

    • Friday

      When being admitted for surgery of any kind, they do. Certainly around here. I wasn’t about to lie out of fear, but yeah, it was a concern.

  • Edward G. Rickey

    I agree with Tauri1, the claim that this *could* affect pagans directly for being pagan is really reaching. No doctor or medical clinic I’m aware of ever asks religion. And the logical reply is “what does that have to do with my medical condition”?

    After passage of the ACA, states like my own passed laws forbidding doctors from asking about firearms in the home. If we respect the privacy of firearms ownership with a similar relevancy argument, faith litmus testing is a non-issue.

    • kenofken

      The laws which ban doctors from asking about guns are in no way motivated by a general respect for personal autonomy and privacy. They are Soviet style bans on speech which is deemed to be ideologically off-limits to the regime in power and to multi-billion dollar corporate interests. Unlike religion, the availability and security of firearms in homes is hugely relevant in many situations of medical and psychiatric care.

      Moreover, the states which pass these gag laws are virtually all red states which routinely propose and pass laws inserting the state into the most intimate personal decisions around contraception and abortion. These “privacy loving” states have or attempt to pass laws which disclose abortion patient’s personal identifies and force them into unnecessary ultrasounds and scripted doctor-patient interactions designed to bully and indoctrinate women against making their own choices.

      If this political and legal climate is something you believe deserves implicit trust in matters of religious discrimination…good luck with that.

      • Wolfsbane

        These may not be motivated by respect for personal autonomy and privacy but that’s the next effect, the enhancing one’s personal autonomy.

        We’ve all read many times, both here and in the news about people’s families, who are supposed to love live and care about them, who have done unspeakable inhuman things to them upon finding out their ‘loved one’ is Pagan or gay or whatever.

        You’d be a fool if you didn’t ask yourself upon reflection, if these ‘loving’ family members are capable of this, what are strangers capable of doing?

        As a Pagan or a gay or transgendered person you’re much better off having a firearm that the world doesn’t know you have. Let their first introduction to it be something 150 grains and .30 caliber zipping at high velocity through the hunch brain of the ringleader of the howling mob of bigots who have come for you. It certainly will quickly and most assuredly make being a bigot with a burning desire to do harm to a Pagan or gay or transgendered person a lot less appealing. In any case, the continued existence of my Pagan and gay and/or transgendered friends is worth more to me than the lives of several bigoted Christians. Having the means to effect that outcome is much more valuable than anything.

        Anyone who has attended K-12 has had to listen to invasive prying into personal privacy. It’s just training for being able to successfully deal with it as an adult and have developed the capacity to ignore it.

        • kenofken

          I’m all for the Second Amendment and all that, but being that we’re (maybe) 0.5% of the population, I don’t think we’re going to be able to shoot our way out of the intolerance problem. I also don’t think that barring doctors from even discussing gun ownership or safety is going to give us any great element of surprise in whatever confrontations might arise. The odds of anyone you meet in this country being a gun owner are, in the aggregate, nearly 50/50, and much higher in some regions, particularly those where religious fundamentalism holds sway. Criminals and terrorists pretty well account for that already in their decision making, and in the case of the latter, expect to die in the course of their rampage.

          • Wolfsbane

            When the Swiss ambassador was asked by a Nazi official what they would do if they were invaded by a million man army, given the Swiss only had 500,000 soldiers. He replied, we will shoot twice and then go home. We Pagans may have to shoot a few more times, but this is why standard magazines for AR’s are 30 rounds.

            There are other methods of force multiplication. I was writing my dissertation on the troubles in Northern Ireland and the Irish struggle for freedom and control over in their own land. I was able to interview a bunch of guys who were living in NYC after the Belfast Accords were signed. I learned a bunch of interesting things about the City of London campaign which brought the accords about regarding force multiplication and asymmetric warfare from their stories. Those are things all members of a minority religion, especially Pagans, ought to acquaint themselves with.

          • kenofken

            We should learn more lessons of history in all avenues that might benefit us. However, the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland was about 35% at the time of partition and the later decades of the Troubles. Our demographic position is more akin to that of the Yazidis in Iraq. Unless we somehow came to dominate the top ranks in the military and most especially those in control of nuclear assets, there is really no force multiplier which begins to close that gap. Self defense strategies have their place at the micro and personal levels, but if our country truly gives up on the rule of law and pluralism and fractures along sectarian lines, we Pagan are what the political scientists would term “screwed”.

      • Edward G. Rickey

        Wow Ken, that’s a whole lot of unsubstantiated assertions. Let’s examine them.

        I live in such a state that passed laws to prohibit doctors from asking about firearms in the home, and the debate was centered around privacy and relevancy. They are not “Soviet style”, and it amuses me that in one breath you feel a doctor should ask intrusive questions about firearms, but then should be hands off when it comes to contraception and abortion. Unless the doctor is a law enforcement officer, or a gun saftey instructor, I fail to see the relevance. The only argument one *could* make is one of public safety or suicide risk, but a more likely risk of dying is car accidents. Does a doctor refuse to treat a patient with a driver’s license?

        I agree the State has no business in a woman’s decisions on abortion or contraception. That’s ironclad. But I can keep my guns and keep abortion rights at the same time. And my state has both, thanks.

        I think that the argument around potential religious discrimination is very, very weak. TWH seems to be struggling to find a Pagan angle here. Ken reaches for that by implying that I have “implicit trust” that religious discrimination isn’t a thing. I think it’s not a thing in this article around paganism, but it’s an issue around LGBT. They are different things.

        This becomes a slippery slope. Can a Pagan group ask a person to leave a public ritual for no other reason that wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat? If your answer is yes, then a bakery can refuse to bake a cake for a gay wedding and a Catholic hospital can refuse a non medically necessary hysterectomy on a trans patient. Once you assert the right to refuse, you have to allow that right for anyone.

        And that does not deny the patient the right to get the surgery, or the gay couple a cake or the MAGA hat wearing pagan a right to ritual. It does say that no one is *compelled* to provide services. And that’s the real augment here – should the hospital be *compelled* to perform a surgery against the teaching of the Catholic church.?

        If you say it should, then tell me when your next public ritual is so I can order a red baseball cap.

        • kenofken

          The Trump baseball cap scenario is not analogous to religious discrimination because political affiliations are not protected classes in civil rights laws the way race, religion, gender and (increasingly), sexual orientation are. In any event, religious services are not public accommodations like businesses, so a Pagan circle would not have to admit anyone on that basis. Churches and other religious groups are even allowed to discriminate in hiring based upon religion. Political speech does of course enjoy protection in the public square. Government cannot restrict your expression based on the content of your speech.

          The gag laws on physicians about firearms are Orwellian and bizarre. My bartender or anyone else in the world has the First Amendment freedom to ask me about gun ownership, but not the man or woman charged with responsibility for my physical and mental health (someone I have willingly retained to do so at many hundreds of dollars per hour).

          They should be free to discuss firearm ownership whenever they feel it is clinically relevant. Given the proven links between depression, substance abuse and other mental illnesses and suicide, and the fact that guns are far and away the most successful method of completed suicide, that discussion is relevant for many millions of patients at some time in their lives. It’s also relevant in pediatrics in a country where several hundred children accidentally shoot themselves or a family member each year. No more so than other risk factors, but no less either.

          To your point about driving, doctors do regularly intervene in that “private” decision as well. They routinely certify whether someone is mentally and physically able to operate a motor vehicle, and they are often left with the unpleasant task of helping to relieve elderly family members of their licenses to prevent them from killing themselves or innocent bystanders.

          I’ve had varying degrees of trust in my doctors over the years. I have zero trust in politicians to be making blanket decisions about what is medically or scientifically sound practice. This is the same gang of asshats who demand “equal treatment” of creationism as a scientific theory and brought us the assertion that women can’t get pregnant from “legitimate rape.”

          • Edward G. Rickey

            Actually, the MAGA hat is a relevant analogy. The article mentioned a patient that petitioned a *Catholic* hospital knowing that such a surgery contradicted church teachings. No one discriminated against her on issues around gender identity, they just refused to provide a service that they are morally opposed to. Nobody prevents the patient from getting the surgery, but no one can compel the hospital to provide it. Likewise, no one can prevent someone from wearing a MAGA hat, but no one should be compelled to provide the space to wear it in.

            Firealm ownership isn’t relevant to an office visit for a cold or check up. If you have a patient displaying mental illness or symptoms of clinical depression, that’s a different matter, and one a court intervenes in.

        • Friday

          A religious service actually *is* somewhere where you don’t have a ‘right’ to walk in and disrupt it, say with a hat meant to piss people off. A hospital or business a Christian church owns is *not* a religious service or church.

    • Friday

      Actually, when you go in for surgery they about always do ask religion, in my experience. Actually I did intake at both local hospitals recently over an outpatient surgery (the appointment got moved in time and place) and they both most certainly did ask. It’s actually a bit intimidating for Pagans when there’s crosses all over everything, but you know it’d default to sending whoever *they* felt like if there was a need.

      Though actually hospital chaplain types tend to be nicer people than, say, their bishops. Usually worth meeting and more professional about he fact its’ a hospital, certainly, despite religious differences, actually.

      • Edward G. Rickey

        Go to a different, non religious hospital for your next surgery then.

        • Friday

          *Again,* dammit, it’s not so simple as ‘Just go somewhere else if where your doctor and/or insurance can get an OR booked happens to decide to turn around and discriminate. ‘ Our hospital system just doesn’t work that way, and if it did there is no excuse for Catholic hospitals to take public funding and supplant our hospital system only to start turning away ‘undesireables’ according to the owner’s religious demands… Where does that end? “Oh, just stop everything, rearrange all the plans, go through insurance company process all over because of someone else’s religious demands, and by the way hope the infection doesn’t get any worse in the meantime….”

          This is *not* a matter of ‘Consumer choice,’ it’s a matter of *public health* and *your doctor* and people not being supposed to have to go shopping not for the best service and or price, but ….where there isn’t some Christian administrator willing to obstruct your life and medical care over their own tabooes.

    • g75401

      I see from your replies you belong to the fantasy group of guns and self protection. We ask about guns in the home because 20,000 people shoot themselves with those guns every year. We are also legally mandated to inquire about domestic violence-10,000 people are murdered by guns every year- and report both child and elder abuse. The reason the government has decided to outlaw my asking about your guns is that they don’t want the CDC to collect data that could dispel your precious fantasy. As for self protection, watch the Mythbuster episode about zombies and a gun for self protection. Or go review the history of the Black Panthers or the MOVE organization in Philadelphia. If you think your gun protects you from a “hostile” government, you’ve been living in a white privilege bubble too long. Heck, guns don’t even protect you from a committed “bad guy”. So, sure, console yourself with stories of the Swiss and Hitler. I prefer to live in reality. You are nothing but the “half of the poor people” that has shown readiness to kill the “other half”.

      • Edward G. Rickey

        I live in the fantasy world where people should be free to enjoy their constitutionality protected rights. I also live in the world where having a lawful firearm protected me and my family from a carjacking five years ago.

        I also lI’ve in the fantasy world where the government doesn’t make doctors interrogate their patients about private information.

  • Wolfsbane

    I certainly agree with non discrimination in principle.

    In reality who in their right mind as a transgendered person or a Pagan elects to have a gender reassignment procedure or any procedure done at a Catholic hospital? Who wants decisions made on their behalf decided by people to subscribe to the philosophies and beliefs of these bigoted hunch brained partners of the Nazis in the holocaust and WW2 which is the Catholic church? Why would you elect to put yourself in a situation where they are making life and death decisions on your well being and continued minute to minute existence? In a situation where you may be helpless and totally at their mercy?

    If there ever was a situation where the the gods are smacking you up beside the the head and shouting at you to go and have the procedure done at another hospital, on e that’s not run be people with a medieval antiquated value system who wish you harm, this is that situation. You should LISTEN to them. All medical care is NOT equal and NOT interchangeable. It’s something in your life were there is no take backs and do overs. You only get one chance to have it done correctly the first time.

    • Tauri1

      “In reality who in their right mind as a transgendered person or a Pagan elects to have a gender reassignment procedure or any procedure done at a Catholic hospital? ”

      Well, a close friend ended up going to a Seventh Day Adventist hospital because that’s the only one her doctor was affiliated with. The Seventh Day Adventists are extremely religious. When I went with her to have her procedure done, the doctor stopped and asked her if she wouldn’t mind if he prayed with her. She told him she was Buddhist (she’s sort of Hindu/Buddhist) but I think she felt a compulsion to say “okay” when she really wasn’t interested mainly because she was in a religious hospital and her doctor was a Seventh Day Adventist. He bowed his head an prayed and I cast a quick Circle up around both of them!

      Now if it was me, I wouldn’ve said, “No. I’m not Christian and I feel very uncomfortable with your “praying” for me.” To me, that’s no different than the “Jewish” woman at a former job who converted to “Christianity” harassing me by saying “I’m praying for you!”. If I want your prayers, I’ll ASK you.

      • Wolfsbane

        Gods save us from the people who are preying on ….er…praying for us. You could always try the if ‘I wanted your opinion, I’d read it in your entrails’ gambit with your prayer buddy. It tends to make them back off. 😉

    • Lupa

      My doctor for the past 8 years is at a Catholic hospital. I have no idea of her religion and I don’t care. She treats me like the expert on living in my body, listens attentively, and respects me rather than.just handing down authoritative advice. The hospital database of medicines includes supplements like probiotics as well as pharmaceuticals. And never once has religion come up anywhere.

      • Wolfsbane

        Your experience is atypical. Hope you never are in a situation where you’re unable to express your preference and your life is subject to their beliefs.

    • Friday

      You assume a) that in the real world people or their doctors have that much choice in where a surgery is booked or covered, or available, or for that matter cheapest, though that’s rarely the case in Catholic owned hospitals, and that b) Somehow some special right of Catholic hospital owners to take public money from all of us, then call people and things ‘sins’ entitles them to even *make* people of some minorities re-book and shop for/travel to another hospital whenever someone of the dominant religion feels like developing a ‘religious objection’ to your medical care or person.

      The problem here *is* in fact that Church-owned companies have supplanted *our* public hospital system and seek to use that ownership as an excuse to enforce their dogma on others.

      • Wolfsbane

        This is mostly a problem with our health care system. It needs a single payer fix, which it’s probably isn’t likely to get anytime soon.

        I hope people actually *have* an option to move to a different hospital when Catholic systems get uppity about whatever.

        • Friday

          Since that is not the case presently, it is another case of ‘Why don’t you just’ not addressing injustices.

  • g75401

    I am a pagan doctor. I am also well versed in EMTALA. I would never be compelled to treat the Duggars unless one of them was having an emergency and, even then, all I would have to do is provide initial emergency stabilization, That being said, we need to realize history does not always spin forward and we are entering a time where a parallel “unofficial” healthcare system is starting to form. It is already flourishing in Latino communities. Gender reassignment is a perfect example. Why spent thousands here when you can fly to India and spend less? People do not, at the root, understand health insurance. Health insurance is there to protect hospitals. Repeal the ACA, voucherize Medicare, turn Medicaid into block grants….all of those options threaten the financial stability of hospitals. Hospitals hate medical tourism more than they hate the big federal handout they get with the ACA and Medicare/Medicaid. There are two ways to address an inequitable system. The first is to protest, the second is to find alternatives. The government is entering a new stage of fascism. They can handle, and ignore, your protests. They can’t handle you refusing to “play the game”. Abortion is a perfect example. Most abortions are performed via a pill combo. That pill combo is available on the internet. You can make abortion “illegal” and not touch the availability of those pills because one is used primarily for autoimmune diseases and the second is used primarily for peptic ulcer disease. If your abortion doesn’t work, you can get a D&C just like anyone else with an incomplete miscarriage. Sure, 1 in 6 hospitals in this country is affiliated with Catholicism. That number used to be higher. Repeal the ACA, “reform” Medicare and Medicaid and watch that number drop. I used to say my old hospital was run by “The Sisters of the Incarnate Dollar”. The Sisters sold that hospital about a decade ago because it wasn’t profitable.