Critical that We Care

I wholeheartedly agree with Kate Parke’s assessment in “Critical Condition.” The ACLU of Colorado similarly believes that everyone has a right to receive appropriate healthcare and information. Every day in Colorado, healthcare providers and hospitals deny care by imposing their religious beliefs on patients. With more than a third of all hospital beds in Colorado controlled by Catholic hospitals, and three commu­nities that Merger Watch identifies as having a Cath­olic sole community hospital, laws protecting patient health are sorely needed in Colorado.

These aren’t just statis­tics; these are real people who are being denied care. We hear stories throughout Colorado of women and men being denied repro­ductive healthcare because of their hospital’s religious beliefs. Sometimes the patients are not even told that a needed procedure cannot be done because of religious directives, and they walk away believing the denial of care was done for medical reasons. Whether it is the removal of an out-of-place IUD, a tubal ligation, a vasectomy or lifesaving miscarriage care, patients have a right to know why services are being denied and a right to help in finding alternate providers. Illinois has model legislation that protects patient health while upholding the right to practice one’s religion. Religious freedom is an important Colorado value. However, no one should impose their personal reli­gious views on others, espe­cially when it comes to life and death decisions.

DENISE MAES
Public Policy Director, ACLU of Colorado
Denver, CO

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