Commentary: A free society allows healthcare choices

I have read several of the Forum letters on Hoag Hospital's decision to reduce women's reproductive healthcare services, the most recent of which was from Denis Montenaro in the July 7 Pilot ("I support Hoag, reject Democrats.")

I would not encourage anyone to discontinue a pregnancy, but I definitely would not take away the right to choose.

It is clear to me that the anti-choice people are not supporters of freedom. After all, what is more central to the concept of freedom than the right of those most affected by a situation to choose their own course of action?

Hoag Hospital offered women a medical service before its alliance with St. Joseph Health, a Catholic health system. Women could choose to use the full spectrum of Hoag's women's health services or not. They were not forced to use these services. This was a decision to be made by the women in consultation with anyone else they chose to go to for advice.

Our First Amendment right to freedom of religion is now restricted to the choice of abiding by the Catholic religion dictates or seeking another hospital that doesn't restrict this right. This anti-choice decision by Hoag, upheld by anti-freedom proponents like Montenaro, is an affront to the freedom-based principles of our country.

Montenaro's comment that those favoring choice are totally intolerant of any beliefs other than their own is actually the opposite of what is true. Instead, it is the Catholic Church that is forcing its intolerant beliefs on all women of child-bearing age served by Hoag.

In addition, should Hoag receive federal and state funds, its decision could violate the separation of church and state, as required under the First Amendment. I am quite sure the anti-choicers would like to ignore this too.

The anti-choicers also evidently do not believe in the laws of the country and the decisions of the U. S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court was established through Article 3, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, and judicial power of the United States is vested in the Supreme Court. Justices decided in favor a women's right to choose based on the Roe vs. Wade case.

I believe that reversing the decision made by Hoag Hospital is the only action that is consistent with our concept of freedom, our Constitution, system of laws and interest in providing the full spectrum of women's healthcare services.

MARGARET MOONEY lives in Costa Mesa.

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