ACLU Sues Bishops Over Abortion in Catholic Hospitals

I remember the days when pro abortion people were pro choice.

I mean, actually pro choice in that they didn’t push to force everyone else on the planet to participate in their “choice.” That has devolved, along with most of the rest of the culture, into a caricature of itself.

I also remember the days when the American Civil Liberties Union concerned itself with civil liberties. Sadly, it has, along with so much of the rest of our society, become a caricature of itself. The ACLU has increasingly become all about using  the Constitution as an instrument of coercion and the power of government as a means of forcing people to do things against their conscience.

A case in point is the recent lawsuit filed by the ACLU against the nation’s Roman Catholic Bishops. The lawsuit seeks to force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions under the guise of good medical practice.

The lawsuit appears to be based on a single case concerning a woman in her 18th week of pregnancy. According to the vague descriptions I read on the ACLU web site, the woman’s membranes evidently ruptured during the 18th week of her pregnancy and the ACLU has decided the hospital erred by not referring her for an abortion. Ipso fatso, as Archie Bunker used to say, it’s time to make some new Constitutional law.

I have experience with a situation like this from one of my own pregnancies. The statement on the ACLU web site doesn’t give enough detail about the medical situation for me to have an opinion about this woman’s medical care. But I am here to tell you — as is my 23-year-old, 6’3″ hulk of a son — that if the ACLU is claiming that ruptured membranes in the second trimester of pregnancy are an automatic reason for an abortion, or that it means the baby has no chance of survival, they’ve got their heads stuck up something or the other.

That’s just not true.

I don’t think this is a legitimate lawsuit. I certainly don’t think it’s a case of violation of civil liberties.

I think it’s the ACLU, trying to coerce the whole wide world to live by what has become their actual credo (which has nothing to do with civil liberties) that a certain slim slice of American thinking should be not only pre-eminent, but enforced and coerced by the government on everyone, everywhere.

All these attacks on the Church and religious freedom are obviously coming from a playbook of sorts. From forcing people to bake cake and take photos against their will, to suing the bishops for refusing to sanction abortions, the message is the same: Government force should be used to coerce people to violate their faith.

It’s an old idea. The Romans pioneered it against Christians when they demanded that Christians bow down to idols or die. Nebuchadnezzar got some of the same action with his golden idol and Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego.

There is, as Ecclesiastes tells us, nothing new under the sun. Christians today, like Christians in the past, are being threatened with government reprisal if they won’t kiss Ceasar’s ring.

Nebuchadezzar, Ceasar, the American courts and the ACLU: It’s all the same lie told by the same dark lord.

From The New York Times:

The American Civil Liberties Union announced on Monday that it had filed a lawsuit against the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops, arguing that their anti-abortion directives to Catholic hospitals hamper proper care of pregnant women in medical distress, leading to medical negligence.

The suit was filed in federal court in Michigan on Friday on behalf of a woman who says she did not receive accurate information or care at a Catholic hospital there, exposing her to dangerous infections after her water broke at 18 weeks of pregnancy.

In an unusual step, she is not suing the hospital, Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon, but rather the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Its ethical and religious directives, the suit alleges, require Catholic hospitals to avoid abortion or referrals, “even when doing so places a woman’s health or life at risk.”

The suit opens a new front in the clash over religious rights and medical care.

  • Thomas Mandile

    Excellent article! Thank you! The Rack, Shack, and Benny reference is right on, and timely.

  • SisterCynthia

    Rebecca, I don’t know if you have seen this, a friend linked to it on Facebook and I saw it this morning. It is from Argentina late last month. I have cried and cried, it is so awful to watch, but it is also beautiful to see our brothers stand against such obscenity for our Lord. Real men, praying the rosary and refusing to fight. And the women make me so sad, that they have chosen such evil, which seems to be illuminated so starkly against the example of Mary which the men bring to our minds. If anyone finds visuals overwhelming, the article covers the incident and you don’t need to watch the video. It is powerful but RAW. Painfully so. :(

    http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/horror-mob-of-topless-pro-abort-feminists-attacks-rosary-praying-men-defend

    My friend suggested we pray, and that’s about all I can think to do in response to this.

    • hamiltonr

      I’m going to write about this phenomena tomorrow, Sister. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Barbara Graves

    Say what you want about whether this woman should have had an abortion, but I did not appreciate the tone of this post. The woman’s baby did not survive, so obviously you are wrong when you cavalierly write as if ruptured membranes are no big deal. These are tough issues, and they are tough regardless of where you are on the political spectrum with this issue. If they were easy, we wouldn’t need guidance from the bishops. I read zero compassion for this woman and her baby in this post, which is just awful.

    • SisterCynthia

      Personally, I do find it hard to have compassion for someone who is using a “personal tragedy” to attempt to wrangle large sums of money out of any organization, no matter who or why. It is not the mark of a good person to behave in that sort of gold-digging manner. But it is especially hard to feel much sympathy when they have stepped up to be used as a puppet (ala “Roe”) by bigger fish who are attempting to gut religious protections in this country by playing to people’s emotions, distracting from facts, laws, or precedent lest justice prevail. A decision based on pity will not undo anything that happened to this woman, but it will aim to undo yet more religious freedom.

      • HematitePersuasion

        Why do you approach this with the assumption of bad faith and corrupt intent? A more generous reading — and better place to start any discussion or understanding — would be to consider the similarity of this woman’s situation with that of ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Savita_Halappanavar ) Savita Halappanava — only in this case, she lived.

        Regardless of the merits of this woman’s case, her situation was terrible, and what happened to her most unfortunate.

        Without seeing the horror of what happened to her, and granting her the good faith intent of preventing its happening to others, I don’t see how your commentary adds to any understanding of this situation.

        • AnneG

          One huge problem. Wiki is wrong. Savita Halappanava did not want nor request an abortion. This woman may not have. The hospital may have said we don’t do that. You would have to go to “???” Hospital for that. 30 miles is really nothing in rural US. She went home then came back when she could have gone elsewhere. There is no lack of compassion here. Also, if private ObGyn was not affiliated with that hospital, he was affiliated somewhere. She should have gone there. There are a lot of missing facts and it looks like a search and destroy lawsuit.

          • HematitePersuasion

            I’m sorry, perhaps I wasn’t clear. My point was that this woman may well believe, sincerely, that her condition was life-threatening, and that she did not receive the standard accepted level of care for it because of the ethical stance of the Council of Bishops. And that others are likewise endangered because of those guidelines.

            I am not discussing the facts; I am attempting to understand her position. And quite honestly, what I’ve seen here lacks both compassion — and without those, there cannot be understanding.

            Without understanding, there can only be conflict.

            Perhaps there will be conflict anyway. But maybe if we took the time to understand her, and what she’s saying … she might take the time to understand your position.

            For myself, I find what I’ve heard of the facts troubling, and I cannot dismiss it with the nonchalance I perceive here.

            • FW Ken

              Your perception is skewed. The pro-choice position has been pushed, from the beginning, with lies. The case of the woman in Ireland is the most recent case of a lie being used to push the agenda. And it worked.

              I’m sorry the woman lost her child. That is always a tragedy. However, to use that tragedy to push for criminalization of the pro-life a deeply cynical and manipulative strategy.

              In other words, you are that about which you complain. And you’re not very good at hiding it.

              • HematitePersuasion

                Neither you nor I know the facts; we know only what we’ve heard related, and none of that seems particularly clear. I don’t believe approaching this — or any issue — without compassion and the assumption of good faith from all can possibly be productive.

                Perhaps I’m wrong. There are those who refuse to engage in good faith and have compassion only for those who do not need it.

            • savvy

              The irony here is that the guidelines themselves do not support the charge being made.

              Directive 27, states that physicians should provide “all reasonable information about the essential nature of the proposed treatment and its benefits; its risks, side-effects, consequences and cost…including no treatment at all.”

              If the physicians did not do that for this woman then they were in violation of the directives.

      • Käthe

        Yet having compassion is what we are called to do, as Christians. Let’s recall the answer given, too, to the man who snottily protested, “well, but who is my neighbor?”

        • FW Ken

          Pity is the opposite of compassion and a deeply destructive force.

  • Sus_1

    It doesn’t look like that hospital has a neonatal unit. My question is why she wasn’t transferred to Grand Rapids which is only 42 miles away. There is at least one hospital there with neonatal care.

    I wonder if it was lack of insurance and/or money to pay for it.

    I agree with about choice. It does seem like abortion advocates have forgotten about the choice to have the baby.

    • Käthe

      Because at 18 weeks, in active labor, there would be no chance for the baby to survive no matter what they did. The absolute earliest is 21 weeks and a few days, and it’s not common for babies to survive until 23-25 weeks. At that point it’s around 50/50. At 18 weeks, once the body has gone into full-blown labor and the labor cannot be halted (and after a point, it just cannot, period), there is nothing to be done but care for the mother.

      • hamiltonr

        Nothing in any of the things I’ve read say that this lady was in active labor.

  • Rick Connor

    There seems to be a lot of missing and confusing information about this case. I’ve heard that the hospital in question does not accept Medicaid and was therefore not able to hospitalize this woman unless the hospital itself covered the cost of services. I’ve also read that her private OB-GYN (not affiliated with the hospital) did not order hospitalization, and that the independent OB-GYN did not give her information about abortion either–yet it is only the Catholic hospital that is being sued.

  • Jack Picknell

    The ACLU is owned and operated by lawyers to launch ridiculous lawsuits that generate income for lawyers. Pathetic.

  • AnneG

    I have no idea who runs the ACLU but the whole description of this incident is strange. They leave out a lot of details, like why did the woman go back to the Catholic hospital. Could the whole purpose of the lawsuit be just to drain resources of Catholic hospitals in lawsuits? In that case maybe the hospital should countersue.
    I do not find your comments lacking compassion. There does not seem to be a woman needing compassion, just a potential legal client. This smells fishy, the whole thing.

    • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

      Actually, i think I see a much more cynical and dangerous battle plan. Start from the fact that they have a body. What they want to do is to get a judgment that that body died because of a Catholic refusal to have a late abortion. Then they have a precedent that says that refusal to have late abortions endangers women’s lives, and they can use it not only to force late abortion on to statute books, but also to restrict free speech on abortion, charging opponents of any kind of abortion with endangering women’s lives.

    • Dale

      Anne, according to the lawsuit, the Catholic hospital is the only hospital in the county and only hospital within 30 minutes of where she lived.

      https://www.courthousenews.com/2013/12/04/63415.htm

      There are more details, culled from the allegations made in the lawsuit, at the link.

      • AnneG

        Read it. More heat than light. First, I don’t believe she was not informed nor that she was sent home with no alternatives or follow- up. They are not alleging malpractice which those might be. This is an attack on Catholic doctrine and the Church as Rebecca said.

      • AnneG

        One more thing. The woman is from Muskegon, Mi. I looked it up and that is near, like right by Grand Rapids where there would be high risk and NICU care. I don’t know where the woman lives but you would frequently have to go a ways to get specialty care. I live in a medically over served area and we would have to travel more than 35 mins for specialty cardio hospitalization, for example. Just too many details out of whack, as usual for ACLU.

        • FW Ken

          Four years ago, I drove from Grand Rapids to Muskegon. It’s about 30 minutes or so of straight freeway. In an emergency, which this apparently was not, I’m sure Careflite (or the Michigan equivalent) would have been an option.

  • Käthe

    If there was a chance of saving the baby, when they saw she was in labor they should have admitted her and put her on bedrest with tocolytic drugs such as mag sulfate on IV, then transferred her to the nearest hospital with a Level III NICU on site, by chopper if necessary.

    Medicaid, ability to pay, etc, is not an issue at that point. Active labor means EMTALA is in effect and they have to care for her, if only long enough to get her transferred to a more appropriate facility.

    That they failed to do even this much tells me that the main issue here is not really abortion, but neglect. Whether it’s because they were incompetent, too busy, someone took a disliking to her, etc, doesn’t really matter. She was not given adequate care in an emergency situation.

    As a result the situation escalated. She lost her baby and she could have lost her life. They did nothing to save the baby. Period. That’s where for me–as someone who IS pro-life, just in case someone was going to question that–the credibility is shot for the hospital’s side. Pro-life would be admitting her, hydrating her, and getting her over to a hospital with a NICU asap. Letting the baby die inside her because of money, policy, etc, is not any more pro-life than aborting it.

    In addition to failing to attempt to save the baby, they saw her in a mortally dangerous condition–active preterm labor with a fever, indicating choreoamnionitis which can VERY quickly escalate to sepsis and death–and they failed to take action to help her then, too. Someone mentioned Savita’s situation, where things COULD have been done even adhering strictly to Catholic canon law, and were not. I will also mention the situation of Rick Santorum’s wife, whose life was saved by more responsible doctors when she had a similar crisis in one of her pregnancies. There ARE things that they could have done. Some people accused Mrs. Santorum of having an abortion but she absolutely did not. She was treated appropriately and ethically for severe preterm labor with infection. The same could have been done for this woman. The Catholic hospital holds no moral high ground here, none.

    Failure to demonstrate compassion for a woman who lost her child and nearly lost her life is extremely poor witness for the Church. It is very upsetting to see this.

    • AnneG

      In the lawsuit it does not say she was in active labor. I bet she refused what they offered and did not go to her own ObGyn and probably did not want to be transferred. I’ve seen people do stuff like that in Baltimore, then come try to blame the hospital for bad outcomes.
      The protocol you state above hinges on active labor. Does not seem to be the case.

  • AnneG

    Rebecca, you are right. Even if the ACLU loses this suit, which they probably will, they have control of the message. If you search this woman’s name you will see that the ACLU has been very successful in getting the message that abortion is the answer, Catholic hospitals won’t do abortions, there are more Catholic hospitals than ever, therefore Catholic hospitals have to be stopped. I think that was your initial point, Rebecca. This suit is about attacking the Church, not a malpractice or negligence suit, nor about providing for a woman and her baby in a precarious situation.

  • Holly Williams

    This is disgusting that the ACLU would do this. I am sick and tired of the attacks on our religious freedom! I also find it ironic that an organization which claims to be fighting to protect liberty is the very same organization which is fighting against liberty!


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