Can the ACLU Force Catholic Hospitals to Perform Abortions?


ACRU Staff


December 6, 2013

This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published December 5, 2013 on The Washington Times website.

The ACLU wants Catholic hospitals to practice medicine without morals.

The American Civil Liberties Union is so upset that a Michigan baby died just after being born that the group is suing the Catholic Church for not deliberately killing the child earlier.

In a lawsuit filed on Nov. 29 against the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in U.S. District Court in Michigan, the ACLU contends that the church’s medical directives reflecting a pro-life stance against abortion resulted in negligent care for a woman with a troubled pregnancy who eventually lost the child.

“It’s not just about one woman,” said Kary Moss, executive director of the Michigan ACLU, in a Newsmax report quoted in The Washington Times. “It’s about a nationwide policy created by nonmedical professionals putting patients in harm’s way.”

Translation: Either the Catholic Church directs Catholic hospitals to perform abortions or it will be bankrupted, courtesy of the ACLU, which fights for the “right” to abort even full-term, healthy babies.

For good measure, the ACLU named as defendants the current and past two directors of Catholic Health Ministries, the group that issues national ethical directives for Catholic health institutions.

In the case at hand, plaintiff Tamesha Means, was 18 weeks pregnant in December 2010 when her water broke and she went to Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon. The ACLU suit contends that during three emergency-room treatments, she was never told that “the safest treatment option was to induce labor and terminate the pregnancy.” Catholic doctors are bound by their faith to try to save both mother and baby.

On her third trip to the emergency room, as she was being checked out to go home, Ms. Means began giving birth to a baby, which the doctors delivered but which died 2 hours later, according to the ACLU’s complaint. Because the odds were against the baby’s survival, and Ms. Means had a potentially life-threatening infection, the ACLU contends that doctors should have either aborted the baby or told Ms. Means where to have it done. Hard cases make bad law, and the ACLU is hoping that a jury will find for Ms. Means and dish out a crippling monetary award.

This is about far more than Ms. Means’ tragic situation or one hospital’s alleged negligence. It’s about forcing Catholic doctors everywhere to violate their faith by facilitating abortions. It strikes at the very heart of religious freedom and freedom of conscience. It’s a corollary to the Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate under Obamacare that faith-based institutions or businesses run by devoutly religious owners provide contraceptives regarded as abortifacients or face ruinous fines.

Since only the Catholic Church bothered to build a hospital within 30 minutes of Ms. Means’ home, the ACLU contends that the facility should operate without religious principles guiding it or simply switch to the ACLU’s brand of moral relativism, where unborn children are merely options.

It’s like building the only power plant and providing electricity where there was none and then getting sued for not electrocuting the people that the ACLU thinks are expendable.

“A pregnant woman who goes to the hospital seeking medical care has the right to expect that the hospital’s first priority will be to provide her appropriate care,” said Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the ACLU, in an ACLU press release. “Medical decisions should not be hamstrung by religious directives.”

Indeed, the lawsuit accuses the bishops’ directives of preventing Catholic hospitals from “providing information about treatment options that are not considered morally legitimate.” Well, duh.

It will take more research, but I doubt that you could uncover instances in which the ACLU has sued abortion clinics for not informing their clients of the option of keeping their babies and getting aid from, say, faith-based crisis-pregnancy centers.

The “pro-choice” movement is a one-way street, with the ACLU serving as traffic cop, ensuring that abortion clinics won’t have to meet typical clinical medical standards and that women are not given accurate information about all their “choices.” The “choice” they are given is whether to have the abortion or not.

In the ACLU’s brave new world, “religious directives” must be subordinated to an all-powerful state. That’s why the ACLU has no problem with Obamacare.

Without “religious directives,” all sorts of procedures, up to and including euthanasia, can become requirements if a hospital wants to stay in business.

Once the government gets total control of our health care, we can dispense with those nettlesome matters of conscience that characterize a free country.



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