CHICAGO – Calling on members of the Chicago City Council to reject $5.5 million in tax-increment funding (TIF) for Presence Health at its upcoming meeting this week, the ACLU of Illinois noted Presence’s “policy of turning away patients seeking basic health care.”  The letter noted that Presence has imposed its own religious beliefs in order to deny patients – especially women – access to basic health care. 

The City Council is expected to vote on the proposal at its regular meeting on Wednesday. 

The letter notes that Presence Health follows the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (ERDs). Following these rules, the groups note, “denies patients an array of reproductive health care, including contraceptive pregnancy prevention care, tubal ligations, and miscarriage treatment.” 

At a City Council Committee hearing last week, the medical director for Presence Health sought to assure legislators that the system offers information and referral to women. The ACLU letter raises questions about the accuracy of these assurances. The letter notes, as one example, the experience of a local women who was denied a tubal ligation at the time of a C-section, when it is safest. After recovering from her C-section, the woman was told that she could only get contraception if she was willing to lie about the reason. 

The letter calls this sort of action – refusing to provide women the care they need – “inconsistent with our city’s values.”  The groups urge the members of the City Council to reject the request for $5.5 million in taxpayer dollars. 

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A copy of the letter can be found here.