THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Caritas insurance plan calls for state scrutiny

June 16, 2009
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RE "CARITAS insurance deal faces changes" (Page A1, June 11): When the state's Connector Authority board approved a joint venture involving Catholic-affiliated Caritas Christi Health Care under the state's health insurance plan for low income residents, we were given assurances that women would not be burdened or deprived of timely access to reproductive health services. While Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley has the right to require Catholic institutions to follow Catholic doctrine, that doctrine should not be imposed through a state-funded plan on those who do not share those beliefs.

The cardinal says that Caritas will not provide or refer patients for procedures prohibited by Catholic teaching. Abortion and sterilization are mentioned as prohibited services. If Caritas will be providing primary care services, we wonder what delays will result for those patients requesting contraception.

State law also requires that hospitals provide emergency contraception to rape victims. Is Caritas complying with that law? We urge the state to scrutinize the way this new plan actually operates. It should ensure that our taxpayer dollars are not supporting a company that, because of religious doctrine, places obstacles in the way of women and men who need reproductive healthcare.

Gavi Wolfe, Legislative counsel
American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, Boston

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