Tubal Litigation: The ACLU’s War on Conscience
This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published January 12, 2016 by American Thinker.
In any power struggle, language is supremely important. That’s why the Left constantly invents euphemisms to mask immoral aims and tyrannical demands.
If you ask a Roman Catholic doctor, the term “reproductive health care” means maximizing the means to save the lives of babies and pregnant women and to keep them healthy.
To the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), however, it includes life-taking abortions or, in several California cases, surgical contraception.
On December 28, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of Rebecca Chamorro, who asked that a Catholic-run hospital perform a tubal ligation to render her sterile after her scheduled Caesarean section on January 28. The suit claims she is being denied “basic reproductive health care.”
Mercy Medical Center in Redding is part of the Dignity health system, which has 40 hospitals —- 22 of which are Catholic —- in California, Nevada and Arizona, according to CNSNews.
Chamorro already has two children with her husband and doesn’t want more. Citing Catholic health doctrine, the hospital, which is run by the Sisters of Mercy, declined the request. The ACLU claims that Chamorro has a right to have her tubes tied at Mercy, even though she could have both procedures done at another hospital 70 miles away.
“It’s an incredibly common procedure used by a significant number of married women, but it’s being denied based on religious doctrine. It’s a real problem,” Elizabeth Gill, senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California, told the Sacramento Bee.
But this “real problem” is not about convenience or what’s common. It’s about using the courts to break Catholic and other faith-based institutions to the saddle of the progressive agenda. The Sisters of Mercy are also a major target of the Obama Administration, which is using Obamacare as a bludgeon to force faith-based institutions to violate their beliefs and provide employee insurance that covers abortifacients.
So far, the ACLU has represented three patients of Dr. Samuel Van Kirk, an obstetrician-gynecologist who delivers babies at Mercy. Van Kirk is a member of Physicians for Reproductive Health, a plaintiff in the ACLU lawsuit.
In some cases, Catholic hospitals perform tubal ligations if they determine it would alleviate a health risk. Last August, Rachel Miller, a 32-year-old attorney, was first rebuffed by Mercy hospital officials after she asked them to sterilize her following a planned C-section. She said that going to another hospital 160 miles away was a hardship. The ACLU threatened to sue, and officials changed their decision, “after her doctor provided additional clinical information that fit with its criteria to allow tubal ligations to protect patients from future risk of pregnancies,” according to the Bee.
Officials declined comment on the Chamorro lawsuit but issued an e-mail that included this: “In general, it is our practice not to provide sterilization services at Dignity Health’s Catholic facilities.”
Mercy’s policy is in accord with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Directive 70 states: “Catholic health care organizations are not permitted to engage in immediate material cooperation in actions that are intrinsically immoral, such as abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and direct sterilization.”
Directive 53 addresses exceptions: “Direct sterilization of either men or women, whether permanent or temporary, is not permitted in a Catholic health care institution. Procedures that induce sterility are permitted when their direct effect is the cure or alleviation of a present and serious pathology and a simpler treatment is not available.”
If the ACLU succeeds in overriding the Directives, it’s only a matter of time before they sue to force Catholic hospitals to accommodate the “reproductive health care” option of abortion.
Actually, they’re already at it. The ACLU filed a federal lawsuit on Oct. 1 against Michigan-based Trinity Health Corporation, demanding that its hospitals perform abortions.
Can’t let “religion” get in the way of taking unwanted lives.