Why Archbishop Kurtz and U of L must pay attention to the Mercy Protest

Pro-Life Advocates Rally Against Mercy Hospital’s Relationship with Abortionist Richard Grossman

Yesterday in Colorado, dozens of pro-life activists rallied with Live Action President Lila Rose to call upon Mercy Regional Medical Center to end its association with abortionist Richard Grossman. The basis for this protest was that in having an abortionist on staff, Mercy Hospital is engaging in mediate material cooperation with abortion and scandal in violation of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services. Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Lexington Bishop Ronald GainerDr. Edward Halperin of the University of Louisville School of Medicine, and others involved in negotiations regarding the Catholic Health Initiatives merger in Kentucky should be taking particular note of the Mercy Protest.

Archbishop Kurtz and Bishop Gainer will have the decision whether or not to approve a proposed merger agreement between Jewish Hospital, University of Louisville Hospital, St. Mary’s HealthCare, and the Denver-based Catholic Health Initiatives. According to a report in the Louisville Courier-Journal, Archbishop Kurtz is standing strong for life in saying that his approval will depend on whether the USCCB’s Catholic healthcare directives will be followed by all hospitals involved in the merger.

“If something calls itself a Catholic ministry, it is the responsibility of the bishop to ensure as best we can that that indeed is an accurate title,” Kurtz told a meeting of the Rotary Club of Louisville about the pending merger of Catholic, Jewish and University hospital systems in Louisville and other Kentucky cities. […]

[…] Kurtz emphasized that all Catholic directives on health care must be followed.[…]

[…] Kurtz also said in a brief interview he couldn’t foresee a situation in which University or Jewish hospitals would operate under Catholic ownership without also following the formal Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Heath Care Service. […]

Unfortunately, Dr. Halperin seems committed to a fight on this issue.

Dr. Edward Halperin, dean of the University of Louisville School of Medicine, said Kurtz’s comments did not surprise him.

“I have understood the point of view articulated by Archbishop Kurtz from the start of the merger conversation,” he said in an email. “This is a hospital merger, not a merger of this public university, its School of Medicine, or its faculty. We will serve the citizens from whom our support derives. We are the people’s university.”

He added: “Elective abortion, medically indicated abortion if the mother’s health is in danger, and tubal ligation will continue to be available from my faculty” at some location. […]

[…] University physicians already “provide a full range of reproductive health services,” and he added that the same is true of faculty doctors in other cities who work at Catholic-affiliated hospitals or universities.

“They do so by performing some procedures in Catholic hospitals and some in non-Catholic hospitals, the doctors’ offices, or university-owned buildings,” he said.

Indeed, Dr. Halperin is right that such things do occur. As we saw with Bishop Olmsted in Phoenix, and as we are now seeing with Archbishop Kurtz’s stand for life and dignity in Louisville, the days of using Catholic resources to perform abortions are coming to an end. The Mercy Protest showed that the faith community is quite willing to stand up publicly, with or without their bishops, in defense of human life. As a Kentuckian myself, I have no doubt that my fellow Catholics in Kentucky will, like our brothers and sisters in Colorado, stand with Archbishop Kurtz and Bishop Gainer to defend the life and dignity of all.

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