University of California Halts Plan to Partner with Dignity Health
SAN FRANCISCO – In response to intensifying pressure from UCSF students and faculty, policymakers, and reproductive justice and LGBTQ advocates, the UCSF Chancellor and the President and CEO of UCSF Health today announced that they will not continue to pursue expanded affiliation with Catholic hospital system Dignity Health “as it had been envisioned.”
Statement from Phyllida Burlingame, Reproductive Justice and Gender Equity Director of the ACLU Foundation of Northern California
“We are heartened that UCSF has listened to students, faculty, and concerned Californians and stepped back from expanding a deeply misguided, problematic partnership with Dignity Health, a Catholic hospital system that makes its decisions based on religion, not on the best care for patients. This is a good first step. It shows that Californians can band together against discrimination and in support of everyone getting the health care they need. At the same time, Dignity Health is still the largest hospital system in California, with 31 hospitals, and it is still denying the medical standard of care based on religious doctrine.”
“Moreover, UCSF’s statement suggests that it intends to continue some level of partnership that we believe could still subject patients to religiously based denials of care. We will continue to engage with UCSF to ensure that it upholds its values as a public institution. And, we will continue to push throughout California for health care based on evidence, not religious doctrine.”
Statement from Evan Minton, plaintiff in a lawsuit against Dignity Health for denying care because he is transgender
“I am so relieved to hear that the UC Regents are no longer planning to expand their partnership with Dignity Health. I am grateful they heard the voices of all the Californians who spoke up. I was so afraid for the people who would be going to UCSF expecting to be treated by an institution that is leading the way in LGBTQ and reproductive care, and instead facing the kind of discrimination I faced. The discrimination devastated me, and I don’t want that to happen to anyone else.”
“I will continue to fight discrimination at Catholic hospitals to try and make sure that no other trans person has to struggle for appropriate care like I did. UCSF has said they will still be looking for ways to meet their patients’ needs, but I hope they now know that partnering with Dignity Health hurts patients. I will continue to speak out until I feel sure that UCSF is only in partnerships that protect my transgender brothers and sisters.”
Over 1,700 faculty and staff at UCSF signed a petition calling on UC to reject this partnership, and dozens of people spoke out at Regents' meetings in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Elected officials in Sacramento also expressed their deep concerns.
About Dignity Health and denial of care based on religion
Dignity Health and other Catholic health care institutions must follow religious directives issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. These directives expressly prohibit hospitals from providing a range of comprehensive reproductive health services, including contraception, sterilization, and abortion; and go so far as to characterize these procedures as “intrinsically evil.” Patients in Catholic hospitals have been denied the medical standard of care during miscarriages and when seeking to get their “tubes tied” after giving birth.
Additionally, the Catholic Bishops do not recognize transgender people and therefore do not permit patients to receive gender-affirming care in Catholic facilities. Procedures that are routinely performed for cisgender patients have been systematically denied for transgender patients, including at Dignity Health hospitals.
Health care refusals based on religion are getting a great deal of attention, due to the Trump administration’s new rule and the creation of an enforcement mechanism within the Department of Health and Human Services. There are also several pending lawsuits filed by people who were discriminated against and denied care by Catholic hospitals in California, including two brought by the ACLU against Dignity Health, Chamorro v. Dignity Health, and Minton v. Dignity Health.
More patients’ stories of being denied care based on religion can be found at www.allcareeverywhere.com.