DENVER, CO – In a letter sent today to the Attorney General, the ACLU of Colorado joined with women's rights groups, patient advocates, health care providers and concerned non-profit organizations in opposing the sale of Exempla Health Care (which owns two hospitals: Good Samaritan Medical Center in Lafayette and Lutheran Medical Center in Wheatridge) to the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health Systems.
The coalition's concern focuses on the drop in reproductive and end-of-life health care services available to patients at these two previously non-sectarian hospitals. Under Catholic ownership, the hospital staff would be expected to adhere to the Ethical and Religious Directives. The Directives prohibit all family planning services, referrals and counseling, including contraception, contraceptive counseling, tubal ligation and vasectomy. Patients with HIV and AIDS will not receive advice on the use of condoms to reduce risks of transmission. The directives also allow providers to ignore patient wishes for end-of-life treatment, contradicting US Supreme Court rulings granting patients the right to refuse unwanted medical treatment.
This scenario is of particular concern to those patients whose insurance plans or Medicaid coverage limits them to these hospitals, effectively preventing them from choosing from all available health care options unless they are able to pay the increased costs of out-of-network care.