Americans United in late April advised the University of California at San Francisco Board of Regents to pull out of, or alter, a proposed agreement that will subject several hospitals to religious dictates.
Under the proposal, UCSF Health and the Dignity Health network, which is run by the Catholic Church, would join forces. The plan calls for the university's publicly funded medical center and its employees and students to comply with the church's religious tenets.
In a letter sent April 22 to the board and UCSF Health President and CEO Mark Laret, Americans United explained that any agreements that restrict how UCSF employees or students provide medical care based on religious rules--including those known as the Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs) for Catholic Health Care Service--violate both the U.S. and California Constitutions.
"UCSF Health is a public institution that cannot enter into an agreement that requires its employees or students to abide by any particular religious beliefs. That is a fundamental violation of religious freedom," said Richard B. Katskee, AU's legal director. "Furthermore, it's unacceptable that UCSF Health would consider an affiliation agreement that would endorse the use of religion as the basis for discrimination, particularly against women and the LGBTQ community."
Media accounts say that two of the four San Francisco-area hospitals included in the UCSF-Dignity Health affiliation agreement would fall under the Catholic dictates. These would bar UCSF employees and students from providing abortion care, contraceptives, fertility treatments, sterilization, physician-assisted...