The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is certainly no stranger to clashing with the Catholic Church over its pro-life position. This is especially the case when it comes to Catholic hospitals refusing to perform abortions. A lawsuit from 2013 over such an incident has now been thrown out by a federal judge in Michigan.
A piece from mlive.com reports that Tamesha Means, who miscarried in 2010, was represented by the ACLU and ACLU Michigan with her lawsuit against the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop and three chairs of Catholic Health Ministries. She did not, however, sue the hospital Mercy Health, or its parent, Trinity Health Corp.
Judge Robert Holmes Bell dismissed the case. About his decision to do so:
Bell cited two basic reasons for the dismissal:
- Michigan federal courts have no jurisdiction over the bishops’ conference for policy directives issued by the Washington, D.C.-based organization.
- It’s improper for courts to interfere in religious doctrinal decisions, which Bell concluded was behind the anti-abortion policy directives. Considering the Muskegon woman’s negligence claim would “impermissibly intrude upon ecclesiastical matters,” the judge wrote in his opinion.
Bell noted that Means still had recourse in the courts to sue doctors or hospitals for medical malpractice if she received inadequate medical care – but not, the judge concluded, to sue a religious organization or officials for their religious doctrine.
“It is not up to the Court to mandate the larger structural and policy reform to Catholic hospitals that Plaintiff seeks; that issue is left to the Church and its tribunals,” Bell wrote.
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If Means wished for “a remedy for the trauma she suffered,” which she suffered at the hospital, it wouldn’t make sense for her to sue the Catholic bishops, and not the actual hospital. That is, of course, unless the ACLU is using this case as way to further their agenda, or rather their crusade, against the Catholic bishops.
Judge Bell sums it up well as an objective observer that it makes more sense to sue the hospital if there are allegations of malpractice. That is if the ACLU even cares what an objective observer thinks.
Bell also makes an important point about the dangerous grounds for the Court to interfere with the policies of Catholic institutions, in this case, Catholic hospitals. Here is one such instance where separation of church and state is necessary to protect the church, especially when pro-abortion groups with an agenda, such as the ACLU, are seeking to influence the state.
The ACLU has come out against the Catholic Church before, and it almost certainly will again. But fortunately, the Church can be thankful for such decisions as this.