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Will Some Walgreens Clinics Now Follow Catholic Doctrine?

Will Some Walgreens Clinics Now Follow Catholic Doctrine?


Several groups worry stores in two states will now adhere to Catholic doctrine that discriminates against LGBT people and forbids birth control. 

After Walgreens announced plans to partner with a Catholic hospital to run in-store health clinics in Oregon and Washington, 19 groups have expressed concern that religious doctrine could interfere with the kind of services the drugstore chain offers.

In a letter to the retail giant, the American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations asked Walgreens if its health clinics would continue to provide access to birth control, medication to help terminally ill patients legally take their own lives, and hormones for transgender people.

The groups noted that other health care providers that have partnered with Providence Health, the Catholic hospital that would run Walgreens' health clinics, have stopped providing some services to comply with Catholic teachings, according to the Associated Press.

"In our states," the letter reads, "we have consistently seen that when secular entities join with religious health systems, the services, information, or referrals provided at the secular entity become limited by religious doctrine."

The organizations list several local health care providers that partnered with Providence Health or other religious entities that stopped providing access to the drugs and other services. Swedish Medical Center in Seattle stopped offering elective abortion services, Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton, Wash., stopped providing aid-in-dying drugs, and Highline Medical Center in Burien, Wash., also agreed to comply with the church's ethical guidelines.

The groups questioned whether the drugstore would seek religious exemptions from civil rights laws based on the hospital's status as a Catholic-run entity. They also expressed concern about transgender people having access to hormone therapy.

"Can Walgreens offer assurances that its LGBTQ customers and LGBTQ patients at the clinics will be treated with dignity and respect and will receive the same medical standard of care as any other customer?" the letter said.

At press time, neither Walgreens nor Providence Health had responded to the wire service's request for comment.

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