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The merger of a state institution with a church institution is a bold and creepy idea, the creepiness weighing more heavily in our estimation. Anything that might infringe on the separation of church and state is cause for alarm.

Chancellor Dan Rahn of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences has revealed that UAMS is studying a possible merger with St. Vincent Infirmary health system. Any such proposal needs study by a lot more people than the U of A insiders, who have fairly often demonstrated a disregard for sharing information with the public. One of the biggest questions about this project is whether association with St. Vincent, a Catholic institution with no pretense of concern about the general public's right to know, would make UAMS even more secretive. But there are all sorts of huge questions. Would UAMS stop providing abortions and other birth-control services? Devout St. Vincent officials would certainly not stop lobbying for such a goal. How many jobs would be lost? The doctors would be taken care of, we assume, but people lower on the pay scale would likely be treated less gently. More people out of work is not good for public health.

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