Catholic Bishop: Hospitals Won’t Close But Won’t Comply With Pro-Abortion FOCA

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 11, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Bishop: Hospitals Won’t Close But Won’t Comply With Pro-Abortion FOCA

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 11
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — A leading Catholic bishop says Catholic hospitals won’t close but neither will they comply with a law requiring them to do abortions if the radical Freedom of Choice Act ever becomes law. The FOCA bill could overturn the conscience laws that allows the hospitals to opt out of doing abortions.

Under the original FOCA bill, which has not been reintroduced in the current Congress, limits on forcing medical centers or staff to do abortions could be overturned.

Because of that provision, leading pro-life Catholic officials have said there is a chance Catholic hospitals would be forced to close to avoid abortions.

Now, Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida says that won’t happen, according to a Catholic News Service report.

Bishop Lynch posted a statement on his diocesan blog following the most recent meeting of the Catholic Health Association board of trustees. He said hospitals would not close but would also not comply with the FOCA law either.

“Idle threats about the certain closing of Catholic hospitals if certain things happen are simply that – idle,” the bishop said about threats of closing hospitals.

“Catholic hospitals will not allow abortions to be performed in their facilities," Lynch wrote and they will not comply with forced abortion laws “even if our actions constitute civil disobedience,” he said.

“No Catholic institution or employee of an institution can or will be made to violate the dictates of their conscience resulting from federal or state legislative action,” Bishop Lynch added, according to CNS. But "we will not close" either because Catholic hospitals have an obligation to serve patients for non-abortion reasons.

The CHA reaffirmed its opposition to the FOCA bill during the meeting, CNS indicated.

Lynch said the CHA “will join with the church and all other pro-life parties to vigorously oppose any and all attempts by this Congress or administration to broaden abortion access."

The comments follow on the heels of some criticism from Catholic author and journalist Deal Hudson and others who said Lynch and the CHA were taking too soft of a stand in the face of the FOCA threat.

They also follow a controversy involving Sr. Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, who defended President Barack Obama against criticism from pro-lifers and praised his choices of pro-abortion Health and Human Services secretary Tom Daschle and deputy health care director Jeanne Lambrew.

Daschle eventually withdrew his name from consideration after a tax scandal.

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