Judge Refuses ACLU Demand to Force Catholic Hospitals to Perform Abortions

This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published April 13, 2016 by American Thinker.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) took one on the chin Monday when a federal district judge dismissed a lawsuit against a multi-state Catholic-run health care chain.

Score another win for religious liberty, not to mention unborn children.

The ACLU sued Michigan-based Trinity Health Corporation last July for not making abortion available for women who use their facilities for live births.

The complaint is part of the ACLU’s nationwide campaign to use the courts to force Catholic and other faith-run facilities to violate their beliefs. In this effort, they’re allied with the Obama administration, which has attempted through Obamacare to force the Little Sisters of the Poor and other faith-based groups, along with Christian-owned companies like Hobby Lobby, to provide abortifacients.

Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby and other businesses with religious objections could opt out of a federal contraceptive mandate.

Trinity Health Corporation, which operates or manages 86 hospitals in 21 states, abides by 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.”

Writing for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, Judge Gershwin A. Drain’s dismissal order in American Civil Liberties Union v. Trinity Health Corporation calls the ACLU’s claims of harm “dubious.”

“Plaintiffs have not explained what medical conditions would place their members at risk, or if any of their members have such a condition that would place them at risk,” wrote Judge Drain, a 2012 appointee of President Obama.

“They have only alleged that one of their members was pregnant at the time the claim was filed, and that other members will likely become pregnant in the future.”

“Obviously, pregnancy alone is not a ‘particular condition’ that requires the termination of said pregnancy,” the judge elaborated. “To find the claim to be ripe for review on the facts pleaded before this Court would be to grant a cause of action to every pregnant woman in the state of Michigan upon the date of conception. Accordingly, the alleged harm has not risen beyond a speculative nature and is not ripe for review.”

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys argued the case for the Catholic Medical Association, the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which the court allowed on March 10 to intervene in the case in Trinity’s defense, according to LifeSiteNews.

The ACLU has been trying to chip away at protections for faith-based hospitals with cases featuring female plaintiffs who say traveling to another hospital would constitute a privation.

Last December, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Little Sisters of the Poor-operated Mercy Medical Center in Redding, California, part of the San Francisco-based Dignity health system’s 40 hospitals.

A woman wanted her obstetrician to perform a tubal ligation after a planned Caesarean section birth in January. After a San Francisco judge ruled against her, the patient, Rebecca Chamorro, gave birth on January 20.

She and the ACLU filed an amended complaint on Feb. 29, part of which claims that because she was not sterilized, she and her husband, who now have three children but want no more, will have to “incur additional costs” for birth control.

The complaint seeks an award of “nominal damages” to Ms. Chamorro, lawyers’ fees for the ACLU, and an order forcing the Catholic hospitals to stop “prohibiting doctors from performing immediate postpartum tubal ligation in its hospitals based on nonmedical religious directives.”