LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) -- A merger between University Hospital and Catholic Health Initiatives is causing a groundswell of controversy.
The merger would prohibit certain reproductive medical procedures from taking place in the hospital because they go against the Catholic doctrine which opposes contraception and sterlization. (Catholic Health Initiatives would be the majority operator under the agreement).
University Hospital provides care to numerous indigent patients – among them – many women who choose to be sterilized after giving birth. Currently, there is no plan to address indigent women who after having a cecerean section choose to have a tubal ligation.
That issue has sparked outrage among some, including a group of women who plan to take out ads in this weekend's editions of the Courier-Journal.
"I don't think they really realized that women would be upset by this, that men would be upset by this. And it's really an insult to women and women's health," said Honi Goldman, an organizer of the ad.
On Wednesday, UofL doctors held a news conference to attempt to quash the concerns.
"There won't be any discussion about moving people part way through the procedure , we appreciate that people are concerned about this and we will solve it," said Dr. Ed Halperin, dean of UofL's School of Medicine.
Halperin and David Dunn, executive vice president of health affairs for the university, says $15 million has been set aside in a fund to help address the issue – either by building a new facility, or using an existing outpatient center where the procedures could take place outside the merger and its rules.
"We are exploring a number of possibilities, we are not prepared to give a specific answer at this point," said Dunn.
Honi Goldman is among a group planning to take out ads in this weekend's newspaper, saying that "U of L barters women's heatlh for profit." She says people have written her letters of support.
"I'm so glad you are doing this... I'm really opposed to it, how dare UofL try to pull one over on us," Goldman said.
Halperin tried to discourage others from becoming upset, saying "we will continue to provide a full range of reproductive services.. and we will."
Dunn said the merger would not affect the cirriculum or practice of UofL faculty, doctors or medical students. In fact, he said UofL doctors will still be able to perform abortions and other reproductive procedures - just not within the hospital.
WDRB News has requested a copy of the merger's details through the state's open records act. Our request has been denied.