A federal judge has rejected an ACLU demand that he order Catholic hospitals to perform abortions in violation of church teaching.
The victory for religious rights was announced by the Alliance Defending Freedom, which intervened on behalf of the Catholic Medical Association, the Christian Medical and Dental Associations and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
“No American should be forced to commit an abortion – least of all faith-based medical workers who went into the profession to follow their faith and save lives, not take them,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot.
“No law requires religious hospitals and medical personnel to commit abortions against their faith and conscience, and, in fact, federal law directly prohibits the government from engaging in any such coercion. As we argued in our brief to the court, the ACLU had no standing to bring this suit and demand this kind of government coercion.”
ADF Senior Counsel Matt Bowman added: “Those who doubt that anyone would ever try to force someone to commit an abortion need only look at this case. This is precisely what the ACLU sought to do. The court came to the right conclusion in putting an end to their quest. The ruling relies on important case law that our pro-life medical group clients cited showing that the ACLU’s case was based on pure speculation.”
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, in its dismissal order in American Civil Liberties Union v. Trinity Health Corporation called the ACLU’s claims of harm from the hospital system’s pro-life position “dubious.”
The ethical guidelines of Trinity Health Corporation for Catholic Health Ministries, which runs dozens of hospitals around the country, forbids abortion.
The court, ruling in favor of the Catholic hospitals, argued, “Pregnancy alone is not a ‘particular condition’ that requires the termination of said pregnancy.”
Judge Gershwin Drain explained why the ACLU didn’t have a valid case.
“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,” he said. “Accordingly, the alleged harm has not risen beyond a speculative nature and is not ripe for review.”
The ACLU wanted the judge to order the Catholic facilities to do the abortions, claiming any resistance to doing an abortion would violate the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act.
But the judge said: “Plaintiffs cannot guarantee that their pregnant member will experience complications, choose to get treated at defendants’ hospitals, or even require hospitalization. They have (pled) no facts, nor brought any supplemental evidence to explain why this member in particular faces a substantial risk of having pregnancy complications. Given the events that must materialize, her risk of harm, as currently (pled), cannot be characterized as ‘certainly impending.'”