ACLU loses case to force Catholic hospital to perform abortions
DETROIT, April 11, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A Michigan judge has thrown out the ACLU’s lawsuit attempting to force a nationwide chain of Catholic hospitals to perform abortions.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division dismissed the case, saying the liberal legal organization lacks standing to sue.
The ACLU filed suit against Trinity Health Corporation, which operates 86 health care facilities in 21 states nationwide, last October because Trinity – a Catholic institution – abides by the U.S. Bishops’ Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs), which bar physicians from taking unborn human life.
“Those who doubt that anyone would ever try to force someone to commit an abortion need only look at this case,” explained Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Matt Bowman. “This is precisely what the ACLU sought to do. The court came to the right conclusion in putting an end to their quest.”
Lawyers argued that their policy threatens pregnant women “with real, immediate, and substantial harm by impeding their ability to obtain full emergency medical services,” or a referral to an abortion facility. Mothers who suffered complications during pregnancy, the ACLU said, could become septic.
The court ruled that the ACLU lacked standing to bring the case, dismissing its claims of impending harms as “dubious” and “speculative.”
They did not rise to the point that the case should be heard, much less that a Christian organization should be forced to violate its established protocols based on its faith, the court said.
“Trinity Health Corporation is” dedicated to “carrying out the health care mission of Catholic Health Ministries on behalf of and as an integral part of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States,” the court noted in its ruling today.
“No American should be forced to commit an abortion – least of all faith-based medical workers who went into the profession to follow their faith and save lives, not take them,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “Federal law directly prohibits the government from engaging in any such coercion.”
The ACLU has a long history of suing Catholic health care providers for their refusal to provide services the Roman Catholic faith deems sinful.
In January, a San Francisco judge ruled against an ACLU lawsuit trying to force Mercy Medical Center to sterilize a female patient.
In December 2013, the ACLU sued the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for issuing the directives prohibiting Catholic institutions from performing abortions, an omission the legal group described as a form of medical negligence.
Sterilization and contraception both violate Roman Catholic teaching, as well as the hospital’s ERDs.