In December, LifeNews reported the American Civil Liberties Union sued a Catholic health system in an attempt to force its staff to perform abortions, despite their religious and personal pro-life convictions. On March 23, the court will examine the evidence and determine whether to dismiss the ACLU’s lawsuit against the Trinity Health Corporation.
In a federal lawsuit against Trinity, which is one of the largest Catholic health systems in the country, the ACLU explained that their doctors refused to perform abortions on five women who suffered preterm, premature rupture of membranes. This complication arises when the amniotic sac breaks and leaves no fluid around the unborn child. In these cases, the unborn babies often die; but the ACLU wants to force the Catholic employer to abort babies in these situations.
Alliance Defending Freedom is representing the Catholic health group. On Thursday, the pro-life legal firm said a federal court agreed to allow several pro-life doctor groups to intervene in defense of the Catholic hospital system. These groups are the Catholic Medical Association, the Christian Medical and Dental Association and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
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ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot spoke in defense of Trinity Health: “No American should be forced to commit an abortion. No law requires faith-based hospitals and medical personnel to commit abortions against their faith and conscience, and, in fact, federal law directly prohibits the government from engaging in any such coercion. In addition, the government can’t tie any funding to a requirement that hospitals and health care workers give up their constitutionally protected freedoms. We look forward to defending those freedoms in this case.”
ADF Senior Counsel Matt Bowman explained the lawlessness of forcing Trinity to perform abortions: “Those who doubt that anyone would ever try to force someone to commit an abortion need only look at this case. This is precisely what the ACLU is seeking to do. But forcing Catholic hospitals to perform abortions is not only against the law, it makes no sense at all. Patients should always have the freedom to choose a health care facility that respects life and to choose doctors who do not commit abortions.”
“Forcing health care workers to act contrary to the very faith and ethical convictions that led them into the medical profession—to serve, help, and bring healing to people—is counterproductive, unnecessary, and against the law,” Bowman continued.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, examined the implications of the lawsuit in its order in American Civil Liberties Union v. Trinity Health Corporation. The court wrote, “Here, the Medical Applicants represent members that are affected by the policy directives of the Defendants’ hospitals on a daily basis. The outcome of the litigation could have an effect on the day-to-day aspect of their duties as healthcare professionals. Accordingly, finding that the Medical Applicants are regulated by the policy directives at issue, the Medical Applicants are able to intervene as of right.”
The Catholic health system operates 86 facilities in 21 states, according to the legal group.
Because of the prevalence of abortion in the United States, it is often assumed that OBGYNs will perform abortions. Yet this assumption fails to consider the values and beliefs that many doctors hold, which is that unborn life is a gift that must be valued. This case is a clear reminder of the need to protect the rights of medical personnel.