What happened to separation of church/state? | Letter

Island Hospital is currently looking to affiliate with a larger medical institution to take advantage of the economies of scale involving purchasing, electronic medical records, insurance reimbursement, and specialty referrals.

I support such an association. However, I am quite uncomfortable contemplating Island Hospital aligning itself with any religiously controlled medical institution.

I do not believe that public taxes should support any religion in pursuit of its ministry, whether it is charitable, educational, or delivering health care to the public. What should be a bright line of separation between church and state is becoming blurred in our state.

As a firm believer in the Constitutions of Washington State and the United States, I see a looming conflict that may require judicial resolution. It’s been suggested that affiliations between taxpayer supported medical delivery institutions and those operated by religions organizations could be violations of the Washington State Constitution (Article I, Section 11, as amended in 1957 and 1993).

Although not an attorney, my interpretation of that article and section permits only the employment of a chaplain, in “correctional, and mental institutions, or by a county’s or public hospital district’s hospital, health care facility, or hospice”, not persons with fidelity to an institution implementing church policies in the choice of services or manner of public health care delivery.

In Washington state, no bishop should be able to impose religious doctrine upon a patient and their physician in any matters which are not in full compliance with state and federal medical legislation, or well-established secular best medical practices.

The opportunities for secular medical institutions to affiliate with other than religious dominated medical institutions are rapidly becoming fewer. As a patient I am very concerned about my end of life decisions being extinguished by religious policy which does not respect my fully legal wishes.

San Olson

Lopez Island