California hospitals that implement religious restrictions when providing health care are affected by a new policy that the University of California’s governing board imposed, tightening restrictions.
Shortly before the announcement of the new policy, many criticized the UC system for contracts with religious hospitals that denied services such as abortions, sterilizations or transgender surgery.
Sen. Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat, is currently opposing the UC with legislation that would require it to end contracts with religious health facilities unless they revise their policies or did not apply them to UC physicians and students.
The UC Board of Regents opened the vote on Wednesday which move towards that direction but did not require the ending of contracts with religious hospitals and other health facilities in California. The decision to keep contracts with large chains such as Dignity Health was founded on being able to provide care for 35,000 patients, the majority of which are low-income residents who struggle to have access to hospitals.
“We should have greater ability to serve more patients, but in a way that is in compliance with the policy we adopt today. We’re against discrimination,” John Perez, the chair of the regent and author of the resolution said, the Associated Press reported.
The new policy would only allow new contracts with health care providers that provided services to all patients without discrimination for their religious beliefs or other views. While it does not require a sectarian hospital’s own staff to perform all medical procedures, it would allow UC personnel at the facilities to perform the procedures.
“It has the potential to significantly expand access to reproductive and gender-affirming care and to ensure UC physicians can exercise their own professional judgment in providing care,” Wiener said.