Rush Oak Park sticks with Catholic abortion policy

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By Dan Haley

Editor and Publisher

Rush Oak Park Hospital will continue to follow Catholic policies prohibiting abortions even after it completes the purchase of the hospital from a Wisconsin-based Catholic religious order, Crain's Chicago Business reported Monday.

For the past two decades, Rush University Medical Center has run day-to-day operations at Rush Oak Park Hospital under a joint venture with Wheaton Franciscan Services, the long-time owner of the hospital. With that agreement nearing its end, Rush University Medical had moved to purchase the hospital outright for $21.1 million. At the time of that April joint announcement Rush said that once the deal had closed that Rush would no longer be a Catholic hospital.

Subsequent talks, Crain's reported, led to an agreement that under Rush's ownership the hospital will not perform abortions. The newspaper cited a letter from Chicago Cardinal Francis George to the Vatican sent in June which spelled out the abortion ban. Abortion is one of six areas of Catholic teaching which Rush will reportedly adhere to after its purchase. Also included, according to Crain's, are a ban on the use of frozen embryos and on euthanasia, if it were to be legalized in the state. The pact also says Rush Oak Park will follow end-of-life care principles set out by the Catholic Church.

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Reader Comments

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Oak Park Transplant  

Posted: July 19th, 2013 6:36 PM

Crazier still.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 19th, 2013 5:46 PM

Are you so young that you don't know the history behind our current laws on abortion. If so, perhaps ask your mother or grandmother. Name calling is a poor excuse for ignorance.

OP transplant  

Posted: July 19th, 2013 5:11 PM

"...when someone close to you dies after a botched abortion." You could hardly sound crazier.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 19th, 2013 3:46 PM

cont. If you believe that the Rush hospital system is Pro-life, I think you will find you are mistaken. It is nothing more than a business decision rather than a religious one. What is happening is that women's legal rights are slowly and systematically being diminished. Maybe you will change your mind when someone close to you dies after a botched abortion. Think on it.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 19th, 2013 3:42 PM

Sometimes there is a level of ignorance by some of my fellow bloggers. Maybe the Catholic church legally had a right to allow the sale of OP hospital with the caveat of continuing it's "Pro-life" stance and the Rush hospital system could have taken a pass. Reality check, those other places that will perform this procedure are gone or going away. Are we not again heading to unsanitary, back room abortions. Think not check again. Planned Parenthood just closed 3 clinics in another state.

Jay from Oak Park  

Posted: July 19th, 2013 1:58 PM

Though I do not have a problem with the continuing policies at the hospital, I am curious why the Catholic Church is being cast as the bad guy here. Rush is the one who made this choice. They didn't have to do that. The church used what leverage it had to obtain its goals, as any individual or organization would.

OP Transplant  

Posted: July 17th, 2013 10:33 AM

Speedway - Spare me the fake hand wringing. Catholic owned and affiliated hospitals don't perform abortions because it violates church teaching. There are, however, many health-care providers that perform abortions safely and legally, and patients are free to choose these providers for some or all of their health-care needs. You are allowed to make whichever choice suits you. What a dreadful problem you face!

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 17th, 2013 7:55 AM

It is a sad day when we have doctors and health care workers who care for patients that they are comfortable with. Just think if teachers did the same, plumbers. Time for people to realize that there is a law that requires doctors to perform this procedure as a ob-gyn. I am obviously pro-choice.

This is choice from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 16th, 2013 4:22 PM

Medically necessary terminations are provided at many places that do not provide elective abortions. It is a procedure OF CHOICE. Like a scheduled C-section, so very convenient for many. My OB/GYN won't do Caesarean of convenience, it is against her medical ethics. Should we force her to comply with my choice against her conscience and cut me anyway? She won't do elective abortions, and should not compelled by anyone. You can get your legal, safe AB, just not everywhere and anywhere.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 16th, 2013 3:07 PM

Do you think it is all right that instead of going to her doctor or ob-gyn and be told they don't feel comfortable with this procedure and are forced to go to strangers for a procedure that is legal. The analogy of the root canal is really not close as medical doctors do not do surgery but ob-gyn does. Weak arguments why it is ok to reduce womens reproductive rights. Not OK.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 16th, 2013 3:00 PM

I am having a hard time with your statements. As a retired health care worker of over 30 years we did not have the choice of what we chose to do. If one had serious objections to abortion, they were told to work in another area. If you did not want to take care of a patient with AIDS then they could get another job. Health care workers do not have the luxury of choosing who they will care for. There may be abortions available elsewhere in Chicago but not true elsewhere.

This is choice from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 16th, 2013 12:13 PM

Many hospitals fail to offer elective pregnancy termination, Catholic and secular. It's difficult to staff the procedure. I love a great steak, but couldn't work in a slaughter house. Similarly, some medical professionals that don't view abortion as a violation of their Hippocratic oath still don't want to suck and flush the fetus personally, it is anti-choice to compel them to. There are many inexpensive focused centers in the area that can deliver the service reasonably and consistently.

OP Transplant  

Posted: July 16th, 2013 11:32 AM

Speedway - The law allows for abortion, but it does not compel health care workers to perform them. Root canals are also legal, but my dentist doesn't do them. Is she taking my rights away? Of course not; I can go elsewhere if I need a root canal. Do a quick Google search before going on about how hard it is to get an abortion in this area. One provider offers "seven convenient locations".

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 16th, 2013 2:34 AM

I think there is a bigger picture here. The law allows for abortion legally within the first trimester. Hospitals unwilling to perform this legal procedure are taking a woman's legal rights away. It was accepted not to go against Catholic doctrine in a Catholic based hospital. But with these new maneuvers it is making it much more difficult for a woman to have a first trimester abortion. So how many hospitals exist that will perform this procedure. The number is getting smaller all the tim

OP Transplant  

Posted: July 15th, 2013 9:45 AM

John - Your church also believes it is putting a person's life first. You have a fundamental disagreement with your church's teaching. Some people remain nominally Catholic while picking and choosing which doctrine to follow. Others (myself included) have felt it necessary to leave the church, despite a very real feeling of lifelong connection. No easy choice - it took me years to make it.

OP Transplant  

Posted: July 15th, 2013 9:09 AM

Pride =...I'm not sure, but I think you just spoke critically of what you perceive as fascism, and then called for the closure of a hospital because you don't like its religious affiliation. You might want to take some time to decide which side of the fence you're on where fascism is concerned.

Pride = Reproductive Rights from OP  

Posted: July 13th, 2013 2:27 PM

The right to an abortion by anyone anywhere is a cornerstone of the PRIDE movement. Right to Life is code for fascism. OP Hospital should be closed down.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 13th, 2013 1:34 PM

OP Transplant - It is not my PRIDE, It's my belief that a person's life is more important than the church's rules.


Posted: July 13th, 2013 12:48 PM

John - between Presence (formerly Resurrection and Provina), Tenet (provides revenue management for Catholic Health Initiative's 150 hospitals through subsidiary Conifer) and Trinity (Loyola & Gottlieb) you are going to have a hard time finding a local hospital system that doesn't have a Catholic influence. Tenet seems your best bet so far, but they seem to be under pressure to modify reproductive health practices if they want to keep their lucrative CHI contract.

OIP Transplant  

Posted: July 12th, 2013 7:40 PM

John - Considering moving to another hospital is certainly your right as a health care consumer. Makes a lot more sense than lecturing hospitals whose policies you disagree with. In fact, you could choose to still be proud of the work Catholic hospitals do, caring for people of every faith. But you don't have to. I suspect they'll muddle on without your pride.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 12th, 2013 2:57 PM

OP Transplant - I use Rush doctors as my primary source of medical services. That includes the local hospital. I am considering moving to another hospital. It will not be Loyola either. As a Catholic and a lover of Chicago, I am very proud of the work Catholic Hospitals did before the hierarchy breached the Care for the Patient First code.


Posted: July 12th, 2013 2:49 PM

People act like they can't get an abortion around here or something.....Open up the phone book my friends, its pretty dang easy.

not buying doctrine  

Posted: July 12th, 2013 1:35 PM

Catholic hospitals don't stick to the doctrine of charity when they take money from state and fed programs. Many years ago the fed govt said that any university that accepted fed $$- including research $$ - could not racially discriminate. Up till then non-discrimination had only applied to state schools. Guess what, the private universities that had been discriminating against blacks started accepted blacks - and survived! Same standard should be applied to HC from Catholic hospitals!

OP Transplant  

Posted: July 12th, 2013 12:51 PM

Speedway - The buyer agreed to continue operating Rush OP under the same policies, making it a Catholic-affiliated, though not Catholic-owned, hospital. But, since a large majority of hospitals are neither owned by nor affiliated with the Catholic church, I still don't see this as a major problem for non-Catholics. If these policies are offensive to you, you enjoy the right to choose a different institution to meet your health-care needs.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 11th, 2013 10:00 PM

OP Trans - That is not what they are saying at all. When the hospital is sold it will no longer be a catholic institution, so why should the buyer have catholic doctrine continue in the now non-catholic hospital. Personally, I think the buyer should keep walking and pass on this sale.

OP Transplant  

Posted: July 11th, 2013 3:51 PM

Health care pro - Leaving aside the obvious prejudice demonstrated by the recurrent referrals to sex abuse (which have become the stock in trade of all anti-Catholic bigotry), your assertion is simply foolish. You think that the Catholic Church should operate hospitals that don't function in accordance with their own doctrine. I can't imagine why any church would operate an institution that violated its own teachings. Even if you suggest it on a newspaper message board.

health care professional  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 11:15 PM

op transplant - you asked a question and I gave you an answer. Trust me, I know better than to think that the Catholic church listens to anybody but their own pedophile priests. I wasn't talking to them, I was talking to you.

Donna from Oak Park  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 9:20 PM

Catholic canon law *requires* the inclusion of following the "Directives" governing Catholic hospitals when they are sold to non-Catholic entities. The Franciscan sisters who sold the hospital were REQUIRED to include this as part of the sale. Rush OPTED to close the sale with this requirement. Again, the doctors currently practicing there have already been operating with these restrictions. If their patients' were not aware of it, they are now.

joe from south oak park  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 5:19 PM

too funny there health professional. Maybe you didn't get the memo. The insurance companies are making money these days and the hospitals are barely able to stay afloat.

OP Transplant  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 4:04 PM

health care pro - But that's not going to happen. The Roman Catholic church isn't asking you for our input into what it "should" do. It already has pretty strong views on what it should do. So who picks up the slack? Who treats these non-Catholic patients who show up at Catholic hospitals?

health care professional  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 3:29 PM

Catholic organizations are in the hospital business for one reason - they make money. They should fess up to the fact that they are engaging in a capitalistic endeavor and, while offering all the Catholic whatever they want to Catholics who want that stuff, provide services in a non-secular way to patients who want health care services without the religion. After all, most of the employees are not Catholic and most of the income is not from the Catholic church.

health care professional  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 3:22 PM

All this talk of "going elsewhere" is easier said than done. Patients' relationships are usually with their doctor. When a Catholic organization buys a hospital and imposes its Catholic restrictions, if the patient wants to stay with his/her doctor they are stuck with the new restrictions - as is their doctor.

OP Transplant  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 3:21 PM

health care pro - I'm not sure what you want to have happen. The Catholic church is not going to operate hospitals in a way that violates its own teaching. It makes no sense to expect that. But, if the church doesn't operate hospitals that treat non-Catholic patients, who is going to pick up that slack? Other religious organizations? Government? I have no problem with either answer, but I don't see it happening.

OP Transplant  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 2:59 PM

Speedway - I'm not sure I understand your concern. Rush OP has every right to choose to continue operating just as they did before the sale. You have every right to disagree with their decision, and to seek your medical care elsewhere. You have a great many options.

health care professional  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 2:55 PM

The 12% of US hospitals that are Catholics took in 16% of admitted patients (2008). But in some states they had 30-40% of patients. Since then hospitals have been merging & when Catholic hospitals merge or affiliate with non-Catholic hospitals/clinics they impose Catholic restrictions. That is what happened with Rush which now, as a non-Catholic hospital will still impose Catholic restrictions. Let the Catholics have their restrictions but don't impose them on non-Catholic patients!

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 2:43 PM

You guy are not getting it. I agree Catholic run hospitals should have the right to ban abortions done in their hospitals. But we are talking about Catholic Hospitals who choose to sell their hospital to a non-Catholic buyer should not have the right to ban anything based on the sellers religious beliefs and force that on the buyer and in turn the public. If the Catholic church owns 12% of the hospitals and add all the hospitals they formerly owned and continue to ban abortions in, that adds u

OP Transplant  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 2:39 PM

Bernie - Any American who so chooses can easily spend the rest of his or her life without setting foot in any institution operated by or affiliated with the Catholic church. Rush OP has chosen to continue following church guidelines. It was their choice to make. Fortunately for you, the majority of US hospitals are not affiliated with the church, so you have very many options.

Bernie Law  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 2:22 PM

It's not a Catholic hospital anymore, so one should expect it NOT to be banning abortion. The Catholic Church can boast about history of healthcare to distract the public from its similar history of universal (catholic with a small c?) coverup of child rape. Perhaps that's the objection to abortion - fewer potential victims. Perhaps if the Church arranged to assist for the mothers w unwanted pregnancies, like allow gay couples to adopt...oops, I forgot.

OP Transplant  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 2:18 PM

About 12% of US hospitals are operated by the Roman Catholic church. Given the unlikelihood that the church will change its positions on birth control and abortion, efforts to force Catholic hospitals to provide these services really amount to efforts to force the church out of health care. It makes a lot more sense for those seeking services not provided at Catholic hospitals to go to one of the 88% of hospitals that aren't Catholic.


Posted: July 10th, 2013 1:55 PM

I still remember that when my mother was pregnant with my brother she was scared to drive on the other side of town because if she was in a car accident or had some kind of medical emergency, she would be taken to the local hospital - which was Catholic and would place saving the life of her unborn child ahead of saving her life. She wanted the baby she was carry, but she also wanted to be able to take care of the two children she already had at home.

OP Transplant  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 1:46 PM

It strikes me as unreasonable that someone might enter a hospital operated by the Roman Catholic church and expect a procedure that violates the church's teaching. Patients are free, of course, to vote with their feet and use health-care facilities that are not associated with the Catholic Church. I'm having a hard time seeing the problem here.

health care professional  

Posted: July 9th, 2013 11:06 PM

The is not about abortion. Rather, it is about whether the Catholic Church should have control over the health care non-Catholics receive. And it is not just a matter of going to another hospital. More and more hospitals in the US are coming under the control of religious organizations. This is a matter of religious freedom - as in being free to decide which (if any) religious dictates will control your health decisions.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 9th, 2013 5:06 PM

I agree with some of the others. When this hospital is sold, it will no longer be a Catholic institution and should not be run like one. Someone said, go to another hospital. Well, they did the same thing at West Suburban and West Lake Hospitals. Free choice is going out the window. Woman should have the right to chose. I would consider boycotting these hospitals if this continues and suggest others do the same.

Non-Catholic from Oak Park  

Posted: July 9th, 2013 3:39 PM

There are many non-Catholics who also feel strongly that abortions are inappropriate. Rush Oak Park is maintaining an existing practice. People seeking abortions can continue to get them where they have prior to this sale.


Posted: July 9th, 2013 3:19 PM

To the outraged anti-Catholic commentators: Go somewhere else if you don't like it. Planned Parenthood gets 100s of millions of dollars to provide referrals to people who want them; give them a call. I think that you'd rather take a cheap shot at the oldest, greatest, non-profit provider of healthcare that the world has ever known.

Donna from Oak Park  

Posted: July 9th, 2013 2:50 PM

Since Rush has been applying the Catholic principles as long as it has been operating Oak Park Hospital, it seems its current patients and doctors should be familiar with these standards. No one is forcing anyone to use Rush Oak Park, just as no one is forcing anyone to use any Catholic hospital. You are free to choose which hospital you want. Therefore, no religious beliefs are being forced on anyone.

Daniel Lauber from River Forest  

Posted: July 9th, 2013 2:37 PM

Shame on the ownership at Rush for agreeing to these demands. I'm all for Catholics and any other religious group practicing their religion, but it is inappropriate and outrageous for any religious group to force its beliefs on everybody else -- especially when they endanger and restrict health care. Enough of this forcing of religion on others already!

Robin from Oak park  

Posted: July 9th, 2013 1:44 PM

I like non-profit healthcare, but this is problematic. I'm a mother of two, let's say I have a third child at Rush and its an emergency c-section and I decide I want my tubes tied (better during section, than additional surgery) who is the Catholic Church to say no?

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