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ACLU Sues the Bishops, Calling Refusal to Perform Abortion "Neglect"

Tuesday, December 03, 2013 1:04 PM Comments (74)

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed an outrageous lawsuit in federal court charging the bishops with unfairly forbidding Catholic hospitals from performing abortions.

The suit would equate a Catholic hospital following the "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services," with negligence.

"It's about rules that tie the hands of doctors at Catholic facilities," ACLU Deputy National Legal Director Louise Melling was quoted as saying in one story.

The lawsuit stems from a case where a woman went to a Catholic hospital when she was 18 weeks pregnant. There, she was informed that she would likely lose the baby. She was given medication to stop the contractions and sent home. She later returned to the hospital in pain. The hospital refused to perform an abortion. The woman said she didn’t know it was a Catholic hospital and said the hospital's refusal to perform an abortion endangered her.

The baby was born and died a few hours later.

The Conference of Catholic bishops declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Richard Garnett, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, told NPR that "to sort of claim that it is negligence for the bishops to be issuing directives reminding Catholic hospitals what the church's teachings are with respect to things like abortion and sterilization are, that is a stretch.

"That seems to me to be adopting a strange notion of tort responsibility," he said, "that religious teachings become legal negligence.”

Dr. Douglas Laube, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Wisconsin, was quoted as saying without irony, "While we're all entitled to our religious beliefs, hospitals should not be entitled to impose their religious beliefs on patients and medical staff who do not share them.

But the ACLU should be entitled to impose its beliefs on Catholic hospitals? And the federal government can impose its beliefs on Catholic institutions when it comes to contraceptives and abortifacients?

And this isn’t the sole point of attack by the ACLU on Catholic hospitals.

Concerned about a number of Catholic hospitals merging with secular ones in Washington State, the state's ACLU recently created a petition to be sent to the Governor to "ensure that religious ideology does not dictate the health care services a patient may choose."

"Religious restrictions are putting at risk access to lawful, medically appropriate services including end-of-life care, reproductive health care, and care free of discrimination for LGBT patients," writes the ACLU. "Religious ideology should not control a patient’s choice of health care services."

The fate of religious liberty in this country will be decided in court. How safe are you feeling right about now?

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About Matthew Archbold

Matthew Archbold
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Matt Archbold graduated from Saint Joseph's University in 1995. He is a former journalist who left the newspaper business to raise his five children. He writes for the Creative Minority Report.