ACLU Files Second Lawsuit Attempting to Force Catholic Healthcare System to Perform Abortion
On October 1st, 2015, the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed an amended lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Detroit against the Livonia, Michigan-based Trinity Health Corporation, a Catholic health care system, operating 86 hospitals in 21 states.
Trinity requires all of its member hospitals to abide by the “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services” published by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. These directives specify, in part:
45. Abortion (that is, the directly intended termination of pregnancy before viability or the directly intended destruction of a viable fetus) is never permitted. Every procedure whose sole immediate effect is the termination of pregnancy before viability is an abortion, which, in its moral context, includes the interval between conception and implantation of the embryo. Catholic health care institutions are not to provide abortion services, even based upon the principle of material cooperation. In this context, Catholic health care institutions need to be concerned about the danger of scandal in any association with abortion providers.
The ACLU’s current lawsuit attempts to force abortion upon the Catholic health system provider by means of extremist measures, contending Trinity is “denying appropriate emergency care to women suffering pregnancy complications.”
ACLU attorney Brooke Tucker stated: “Catholic bishops are not licensed medical professionals and have no place dictating how doctors practice medicine, especially when it violates federal law.” In 2013, the ACLU sued the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which drafted the policy used by Trinity Health, Tucker said. That lawsuit was dismissed, is being appealed, and now the ACLU is “going right to the source of the care.”
Eve Pidgeon, spokeswoman for Trinity Health, responded a released statement, saying “The case has no merit. A federal court already dismissed a similar ACLU claim, and we will seek dismissal of this suit for the same reason.” She added:
“The Ethical and Religious Directives are entirely consistent with high-quality health care, and our clinicians continue to provide superb care throughout the communities we serve,” the statement went on to say. We are proud that more than 25,000 licensed physicians work directly with our health system and share our commitment to people-centered care.”The lawsuit goes on to say that hospitals within the system have failed to provide women suffering pregnancy complications with the emergency care required by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act and the Rehabilitation Act because of the policies.