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News Opinion Readers Respond

Under UMMS, St. Joseph cannot be a Catholic institution

I agree with your editorial ("The Salvation of St. Joseph," Dec. 3) on the likely benefits of the University of Maryland Medical System's purchase of St. Joseph Hospital. Nonetheless, St. Joseph "directives" effectively requiring that "[t]hose potential patients who might seek care not permitted by the Catholic faith including abortion, fertility treatment, or artificial contraception will have to look elsewhere," violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Specifically, and contrary to your conclusion, this is because the Maryland Court of Appeals held, in Reverend Daki Napata v. University of Maryland Medical System Corporation that UMMS "is an instrumentality of the state." Just as UMMS, a state entity, must abide by the Establishment Clause, so too must hospitals that it owns. It follows that St. Joseph, may not, without limitation, operate "as a Catholic hospital under all the ethical and religious directives that title suggests."

In order to properly and legally serve the citizens of Maryland, St. Joseph must change its policies that conflict with the Establishment Clause.

Alan Eason, Baltimore

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