A Texas-based abortion chain is going after Catholic bishops who have offered to bury the remains of aborted babies for free.
On Monday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked a ruling that would have forced the Texas bishops to hand over private emails and other communications as part of a lawsuit between the abortion business and the state, World News Daily reports. The bishops are not part of the lawsuit.
The Whole Woman’s Health abortion chain sued Texas two years ago to challenge a law that requires abortion facilities to bury or cremate the remains of aborted babies. The law helps ensure that abortion businesses are not selling aborted babies’ bodies for profit.
The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops offered to allow the free burial of aborted fetal remains in Catholic cemeteries in Texas after abortion activists complained about burdensome costs of the new law, according to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents the bishops.
The abortion business’s request for the bishops’ private communications apparently was related to this statement.
“Government should not have unbounded power to insert itself into the private conversations of any group, much less the leadership of the Catholic Church. Constant surveillance of religious groups is a hallmark of totalitarian societies, not a free people,” said Eric Rassbach, vice president and senior counsel at the Becket Fund.
A federal district court upheld the abortion chain’s demand for the private documents Sunday, and required that the documents be produced within 24 hours, Courthouse News reports. However, the Fifth Circuit halted the ruling Monday.
Whole Woman’s Health, which has a long record of health and safety violations, is asking the court for access to decades of the Catholic bishops’ communications regarding the topic of abortion, including internal communications regarding moral and theological deliberations among the bishops, the legal group said.
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“While the bishops have already handed over thousands of communications with outside groups, it would gravely interfere with the functioning of their ministry to have to hand over all their private internal religious deliberations as well,” according to Becket.
Archbishop Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, of Galveston-Houston, said their ministries to help the marginalized, poor and vulnerable are being threatened by the abortion business.
“We cannot act on our faith and religious convictions as effectively if we have to give up our ability to deliberate in private as the price of admission to the public square,” DiNardo said.
The Texas law has been blocked temporarily while the lawsuit moves through the courts. Abortion activists have argued the law creates an “undue burden” on women’s access to abortion by increasing the cost of an abortion through the burial/cremation requirement.
More states are moving to require dignified burials of aborted babies’ bodies after undercover videos revealed evidence that Planned Parenthood and other abortion facilities may be selling aborted babies’ body parts. The Center for Medical Progress videos prompted a number of states and the U.S. House and Senate to open investigations into the matter.