LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) — Catholic Health is one step closer to breaking ground for a new hospital in Lockport after plans were approved by a state health panel. The new hospital got the green light despite strong opposition from the civil liberties union.

“So our goal is to build something that will enable care to be delivered in a new contemporary way, without having an albatross of an older structure in place,” said Catholic Health CEO Mark Sullivan.

That was Catholic Health CEO Mark Sullivan announcing plans to build Lockport’s new hospital, last October, that would replace the aging Eastern Niagara Hospital in the city of Lockport which is in bankruptcy.

Opposition has been raised over the new $66 million facility, which is applying for financial assistance from the state. But, because Catholic Health is guided by principles of the church, certain services will be excluded such as abortions and birth control counseling.

“To ensure that the hospital could not turn away patients due to policy-based exclusions that lack a basis in medical science. This is going to affect end-of-life care, LGBTQ inclusive care, reproductive care,” said Gabriella Larios of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

The New York Civil Liberties Union registered its objections to the exclusions with the state’s Public Health and Health Planning Council, which was to rule on Mount Saint Mary’s Hospital’s application for a Certificate of Need, which is necessary to start construction. After a brief discussion over those written objections and Catholic Health’s response.

Public Health and Health Planning Council Chairman Jeffrey Kraut said, “Periodically we have, these issues do come up with faith-based organizations and the concern about access to reproductive and other issues.”

The Council approved Catholic Health’s application. A short time later, Catholic Health released a statement saying the new Lockport Memorial campus will strengthen and preserve medical services while ensuring an innovative, sustainable model of healthcare in the Niagara region.

Catholic Health still has a number of hurdles to get over before they can start construction.. including an environmental quality review, financial statements, and engineering plans.

Construction would be completed in 2023, at which time the existing hospital would be demolished.

Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here. To submit a Call 4 Action, click here.