Irish experience of church’s role in healthcare is mirrored in US

Irish Independent

Maeve Sheehan
April 30 2017

Ireland is not the only country grappling with a Catholic influence on public healthcare. So are our American cousins.

One in six hospital beds there is Catholic-owned or affiliated, as are four of the top 10 healthcare systems in America, according to a report published by the Catholics for Choice organisation.

The Catholic bodies operate to “directives” written by the Church hierarchy and circulated across all states that forbid procedures ranging from abortions to sterilisations. The Catholic influence on the sector is expanding as Catholic organisations merge with secular facilities, according to the report called Is Your Health Care Compromised?.

Commenting on the US experience, Jon O’Brien, the Irish-born head of Catholics for Choice, told the Sunday Independent: “There is a bit of a problem when you have a religious authority whose antiquated, outdated, unscientific and sectarian perspectives on what services should be provided to whom, get in the way of people getting the services that they need.

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