Catholics Up in Arms over Boston Catholic Hospitals Abortion Coverage, Archdiocese Now Says Matter ”

CeltiCare rep tells LSN they "will assist getting those (abortion) services"
Wed Jun 10, 2009 - 12:15 pm EST

By Kathleen Gilbert

BOSTON, June 10, 2009 ( - Catholic and pro-life groups are expressing outrage at the Boston Catholic hospitals' participation in state health care, after the jointly-owned plan's website confirmed it would provide abortion, contraception, and sterilization, and would ensure access to the services. 

While the hospitals say the arrangement will not change their procedure for handling healthcare requests contrary to Catholic teaching, the American Life League is responding aggressively to the new venture, vowing not to "allow this scandal to go unnoticed."

CeltiCare, the joint venture of archdiocesan Caritas Christi Health Care network and Centene Corp., is expected to join Massachusetts' subsidized health program effective July 1. On their website, CeltiCare lists abortion, family planning and "reproductive services" as services provided - all of which are required by the Massachusetts Connector Authority. (LSN) today asked CeltiCare communications director Brian Delaney what would happen to a CeltiCare member seeking an abortion at a Caritas Christi hospital.

Delaney answered: "They will be - if a service is not provided at any facility, whether it be one of the Catholic hospitals or one of the health clinics ... then the person would be referred back to the plan, we have a 24/7 call center and they would find an appropriate [facility] ... assuming that that's not an emergency situation. We have call centers of all languages to assist a person in getting the services that are covered under our plan at an appropriate facility."

When LSN asked whether the Caritas Christi hospital would refer a patient seeking abortion to the 24/7 call center, Delaney answered, "I believe so." "I'm not sure someone would necessarily walk into a Catholic hospital and ask for an abortion," he added with a laugh.

He concluded: "Whatever services are mandated by the state that we cover, we will assist that person appropriately in getting those services within or outside the network, either one."   

Caritas Christi spokeswoman Teresa Prego claimed, however, that the referral arrangement is "the same as what we do now."

"[Patients] are referred back to their insurance provider," Prego told LSN today. "That's no different than what we do currently."

The Archdiocese of Boston told the Catholic News Agency yesterday that the matter was “under review.”

“At this juncture there is nothing new to report and no announcements have been made,” said Terrence Donilon, the Archdiocese’s Secretary for Communications and Public Affairs.

When the controversy first broke in early March, Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston issued a statement confirming that Caritas Christi Health Care "has assured me that it will not be engaged in any procedures nor draw any benefits from any relationship which violate the Church’s moral teaching as found in the Ethical and Religious Directives."

"To be perfectly clear, Caritas Christi will never do anything to promote abortions, to direct any patients to providers of abortion or in any way to participate in actions that are contrary to Catholic moral teaching and anyone who suggests otherwise is doing a great disservice to the Catholic Church," Cardinal O'Malley wrote on his blog the next day. "We are committed to the Gospel of Life and no arrangement will be entered into unless it is completely in accord with Church teaching." 

O'Malley also said in March that he had requested a consultation by the National Catholic Bioethics Center to ensure that the arrangement is faithful to Catholic principles, though there has since been no word of the Center's opinion.

Massachusetts' Catholic Action League, who has been suspicious of the joint venture for several months, says that CeltiCare's website provides "final and conclusive proof" of a scandalous relationship between Caritas Christi and the state's abortion-providing health coverage. 

“It is clear that the Caritas/Centene partnership is proceeding with all deliberate speed towards the July 1st start-up date of the Commonwealth Care contract, while the Archdiocese continues its efforts to suppress Catholic opposition to the arrangement," said Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle. "Catholics need to keep the pressure up on the Archdiocese to cancel the contract, and they need to keep Rome informed.”

The American Life League is also spearheading opposition to the arrangement.

"We will not allow this scandal to go unnoticed," said American Life League president Judie Brown. "The Catholic Church in Boston is set to become a partner in the abortion industry."

"Cardinal O'Malley must realize this situation requires his immediate and definitive action," Brown said. "The Cardinal must not permit this scandal to continue. It would be tragic for yet another debacle, caused by misinformation, contradictory statements and shameful cover-ups, to besmirch the reputation of the Archdiocese of Boston."

See related articles:

Commentary: Caritas Christi’s Deal with the Devil – Part II

Commentary: Will the New England Catholic Health Care System Participate in Abortion?

Tension Mounts over Possible Abortion Referral Venture at Boston Catholic Hospitals

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