This note questions the wisdom of those who content that Catholic health providers, to constitutionally qualify for government assistance or be permitted to merge with public entities, must be stripped of that which makes them most effective - their religious identity. The threat to sectarian healthcare has steadily been on the rise as can be seen in actions such as the American Public Health Association's recent approval of a policy statement recommending more government oversight to preclude the dropping of reproductive services when Catholic and Non-Catholic hospitals merge. Section II explores why these mergers occur and why certain services are subsequently dropped. Section III applies a historical analysis to refute the argument that public and private are meant to remain separate. After establishing that pluralism has been and is presently the foundation of the American society and its healthcare, section IV evaluates whether the Establishment Clause or the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment is in danger of violation by mergers between Catholic and Non-Catholic hospitals. Finally, section V addresses the argument that Catholic healthcare mergers constructively deny women, most especially indigent women in rural areas, the right to reproductive services, namely abortion.
Note, Misperception and Misapplication of the First Amendment in the American Pluralistic System: Mergers between Catholic and Non-Catholic Healthcare Systems, 16 J.L. & Health 103 (2001-2002)