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Separation of Church and Hospital: Strategies to Protect Pro-Choice Physicians in Religiously Affiliated Hospitals

By Leora Eisenstadt


On December 7, 2000, St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Granite City, Illinois asked Dr. Yogendra Shah to step down from his position as Chief of the Department of Obstetrics-Gynecology because of pressure that the Catholic hospital had begun to receive from the anti-abortion community. Dr. Shah performed abortions at a private clinic across the street from the hospital, and an increasingly vocal lobby viewed the employment of this doctor as a violation of Catholic principles. On March 19, 1998, Dr. David Mesches was forced out of his position as the chairman of the Department of Family Medicine at New York Medical College, a Roman Catholic-affiliated hospital and medical school in Kingston, New York. Dr. Mesches, in a twist of irony, was attempting to assist in completing a merger between a Catholic hospital and two non-sectarian hospitals in the area. The merger agreement required all three hospitals to bar the performance of abortion and sterilization procedures. As a result, Dr. Mesches had agreed to lease space in his offices in Kingston to a private clinic, which would provide abortions and other women\u27s health services that would be restricted in the hospitals as a condition of the merger. When questioned about this choice, Dr. Mesches commented to a local Kingston newspaper that the right to abortion is \u22the law of the land\u22 and added, \u22it\u27s the right thing to do.\u22, Soon after these remarks were published, Dr. Mesches was dismissed from his position. In December of 1998, Dr. Schales Atkinson received a letter from the Deaconess Hospital in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma indicating that in order to grant him permanent medical staff privileges, the Methodist hospital required him to sign a statement agreeing not to \u22intentionally perform any abortion other than to save the life of the pregnant woman, at the Deaconess Hospital or elsewhere.... .\u2

Topics: Law
Publisher: Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository
Year: 2015
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