How A Hospital Network Might Make Church Law Your Law

If you live in my neck of the woods (southwest Ohio), you have probably seen some ink spilled about transfer agreements and abortion clinics. Not the stuff about the heartbeat bill (see my take here, and how it will completely fuck up organ donation), but how they’re using this tactic to close abortion clinics. If you’re not around here, I’ll sum up:

In 2013, Ohio enacted a law requiring all abortion facilities to have transfer agreements with private hospitals. Unable to obtain such agreements, many facilities have had to close as a result. There is one such clinic near me that appealed the ruling, which was recently denied. This clinic is about four miles away from the flagship hospitals for two hospital networks, Miami Valley Hospital and Kettering Medical Center.

The attorney representing the clinic claimed the requirement is “medically unnecessary and politically motivated” because the hospitals would take emergency patients anyway. Both hospitals are Medicare enrolled, though Miami Valley Hospital is a private nonprofit while Kettering Medical Center is a church-related (7th Day Adventist) hospital. Premier Health, which owns Miami Valley Hospital, recently shuttered Good Samaritan Hospital, which was also a church-related (Roman Catholic) hospital. It was shuttered because (paraphrasing) both GSH and MVH were close enough together that they were redundant.

Today, the Dayton City Council called on the two hospitals to accept a transfer agreement with the clinic.

Also today, the president and CEO of Premier Health, Mary Boosalis, sent a letter to managers, physicians and staff of Premier Health. I was able to see a copy of this letter, and two things in particular are worth noting.

First, it states:

…our ownership includes a Catholic organization. Accordingly, under our governing documents, we are prohibited from entering into certain arrangements, which include transfer agreements with this type of provider.

Letter from Mary Boosalis, 8 May 2019

This is particularly disturbing for two reasons.

First, the leadership of Premier Health Partners closed Good Samaritan Hospital. What used to be Good Samaritan Hospital North has been renamed. What is interesting is that both “Miami Valley North” and Miami Valley Hospital permit one to have a full Do-Not-Resuscitate order, regardless of condition, which violates Catholic teaching because it does not make the distinction between ordinary and extraordinary efforts (references here and here). I am assured that these distinctions are not part of the training for Premier Health Partners employees. I am also assured that prior to this letter, employees at Miami Valley Hospital were not aware they were subject to Church law.

Second, the closest hospital in the network – Miami Valley Hospital – is not, nor has it ever been, a Catholic hospital.

The Cincinnati Archdiocese already tried to let employees at Catholic hospitals, schools, and other institutions go without health care because it might be used for something they disagree with. Now, the CEO of one of the two healthcare networks in this area of Ohio is saying that no facility in the network can contradict the edict of the Roman Catholic church because one (former) hospital was a Catholic hospital.

[EDIT 21 May: I did not realize that Catholic Health Initiatives had acquired a 22% stake in Premier Health Partners, which ended up facilitiating the sale of Good Samaritan.]

When you realize the only other healthcare network in the region is explicitly Seventh-Day Adventist – a religion that has strict rules concerning divorce and remarriage, and has stated that practicing homosexuals are not acceptable as members and has very mixed (though largely negative) views on abortion – this is terrifying.

Okay, so what else did that letter state?

Finally, please know that our hospitals accept any patient from any source who presents with an emergency medical condition.

Letter from Mary Boosalis, 8 May 2019

And in one fell swoop, the CEO of Premier Health Partners demonstrated that this whole thing is medically unnecessary and politically motivated.

At least the Satanic Temple is bothering to point out that religious beliefs aren’t the same across all faiths.

Meanwhile, women can take a look at AidAccess which does consultations to provide medically induced abortions via the mail.

Featured Photo by Garrett Anderson on Unsplash

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