American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) representatives stated in a lawsuit that employees of a Michigan-headquartered Catholic hospital group should be required to perform abortions, even if that procedure violates their religious views. Trinity Health, which operates 86 health clinics in 21 states, was sued by the ACLU in October, when the union claimed the group was "denying appropriate emergency care to women." Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys asked a federal court this month to allow a group of pro-life, pro-women organizations to intervene in defense of the Catholic hospital system.
Despite the guidelines set forth by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops prohibiting Catholics from terminating a pregnancy, the ACLU claims Trinity Health employees have no legal protection to hide behind their rights of conscience, states the Family Policy of Washington. "Further, the lawsuit claims Trinity's refusal to provide abortions is a violation of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, a federal statute that, among other things, aims to ensure emergency healthcare is not to be denied because of a patient's inability to pay."
Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Kevin Theriot said last Thursday that, "not only is there no law that requires faith-based hospitals and medical personnel to commit such acts against their faith and conscience, federal law directly prohibits the government from engaging in any such coercion. Similarly, the government cannot tie any funding to a requirement that hospitals and health care workers give up their constitutionally protected freedoms."
ADF attorneys represent Catholic Medical Association, Christian Medical and Dental Association, American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and Concerned Women for America, all of which could be affected by the lawsuit's outcome.
"No American should be forced to commit an abortion," said Theriot.
"Forcing Catholic hospitals to perform abortions is not only against the law, it simply makes no sense," explained ADF senior legal counsel Matt Bowman.
"Patients should always have the freedom to choose a health care facility that respects life and to choose doctors who do not commit abortions. Other options exist for patients who prefer a different type of facility. Forcing health care workers to act contrary to the very faith convictions that led them into the medical profession - to serve, help, and bring healing to people - is counterproductive, unnecessary, and illegal."
Similar lawsuits have been filed by the ACLU in Washington State, against Skagit Regional Health Clinic and the East Jefferson County Hospital in Port Townsend.