Letters to the Editor

Religion and health care don’t mix

EDITOR: I was glad to see the article on our hospital district’s possible partnering with St. Joseph’s Health System. I have attended several board meetings, and I want to commend the board members on their diligence in exploring merger possibilities. It is, indeed, a difficult process, with many challenges, as outlined in the article.

My concern is that whatever health entity emerges as a result of any merger must fully respect and safeguard the entire range of women’s reproductive rights, including those regarding contraception and abortion counseling and procedures; rights to health care and procedures that LGTBQ persons enjoy; and end-of-life choices. I would not want, in other words, the provisions of the American Catholic Bishops’ so-called ERDs: 2018 Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Services (type that into your browser to see the full directives) to impinge in any way on those and other hard-won rights. Some of the moral teachings of the Catholic Church unfortunately lag far behind the rights recognized by our Constitutional tradition and best medical practices, and I would strongly oppose those restrictions becoming operative in our community, at any time in the future, either at the Windsor clinic or in Healdsburg’s only full hospital (no matter what services it currently offers or not). We must put our faith in practices that acknowledge and responsibly respond to the entire range of contemporary medical issues and health rights, not in attitudes dictated by an outmoded, rear-guard, and near-medieval view of the world. 

Our North Sonoma County Healthcare District is funded by monies from us local taxpayers, and the services and/or policies of a specific religious entity should not impinge on medically-indicated care for women or transgender individuals, on the rights of the community at large, or on any provisions of California law. The Bishops’ ERDs do, in fact, fail the test on all those issues.

Whatever path the board eventually chooses, it must not in any way include Catholic moral teachings in the medical sphere as urged upon us by the American bishops.

Dave Henderson



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