Calif. Officials Drop Proposed Hospital Affiliation Plan.

Position:PEOPLE & EVENTS

Officials with the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) have decided to drop a proposed plan to affiliate their public hospitals with a Catholic health care system after concerns were raised that such a relationship might cause patients to lose services.

Americans United in late April advised UCSF's Board of Regents to pull out of the proposed agreement, asserting that it would subject several of its hospitals to religious dictates.

Under the proposed affiliation plan, UCSF Health and the Dignity Health network, which is run by the Catholic Church, would have joined forces. The plan called for the university's publicly funded medical center, employees and students to comply with the church's religious tenets.

Americans United objected to the plan. In a letter sent on April 22 to the board and UCSF Health President and CEO Mark Laret, AU 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 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."

Americans United was not the only group to express concerns. In April, more...

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