ACLU Claims Catholic Hospitals Refusing Life-Saving Abortions for Women

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 8, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

ACLU Claims Catholic Hospitals Refusing Life-Saving Abortions for Women

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 8
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — The ACLU is making a claim that Catholic hospitals nationwide refusing are abortions for women in very rare instances in which it may somehow be necessary to save their life. But ACLU is coming under fire on its own accord for misrepresenting the situation and trying to force hospitals to do abortions.

The ACLU has sent a has sent a letter to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services demanding an investigation into what it calls "potential violations" of law regarding the supposedly life-saving abortions.

"The lives and health of pregnant women seeking medical care should be of paramount importance," expressed Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, in a statement last week. "No woman should have to worry that she will not receive the care she needs based on the affiliation of the nearest hospital."

The letter asks federal officials to interpret the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) and the Conditions of Participation of Medicare and Medicaid — which require hospitals to provide appropriate medical care to all patients.

The ACLU says the portion of the ACT concerning “emergency reproductive health care” includes abortions.

The Catholic Church has a longstanding pro-life policy against abortions but says it is morally permissible to treat women for life-threatening conditions and that that treatment could result in an "abortion" such as in the case of an ectopic pregnancy.

The letter asks the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), now led by rationing advocate Donald Berwick, to investigate situations in which the lives and health of women were supposedly jeopardized by the Catholic hospitals.

The ACLU of Arizona is leading the charge in the case because of a recent situation at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, where a pregnant woman with life-threatening pulmonary hypertension was taken there and officials debated whether to allow her to have an abortion.

The ethics committee of St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center ultimately approved the abortion but the sister who was the head of the committee was demoted.

The CMS has received the letter and is currently reviewing it to decide whether it will take any action, CMS spokeswoman Ellen Griffith confirmed to CNA.

Meanwhile, Dr. John Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, told CNA that the ACLU letter misrepresents Catholic teaching and practice.

“In fact, some of the conditions cited in the letter would have allowed an ‘indirect abortion’ in a Catholic hospital which permits a physician to address a current and serious pathology which might indirectly result in the foreseen but unintended death of the child,” Dr. Haas told CNA.

And Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel for the Thomas More Society, told CNA that making Catholic hospitals do abortions against their will would violate conscience rights.

“Catholics should view the ACLU’s letter as heralding nothing less than a new onslaught of attacks against the Church’s core teachings that human life is sacred from conception to natural death, that procured or directly intended destruction of a viable fetus by abortion is never morally permissible, and that those who participate or materially aid in such acts per se put themselves out of communion with the Church,” Brejcha explained.

“ACLU’s advocacy that abortions are sometimes necessary to ‘save a life’ and its contention that reproductive health care may require the killing of unborn human beings should provoke an enlightened, invigorated and sustained response from Catholics and others who believe that every human life is endowed with an inviolable right to life,” he said.


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