One in six patients in America today is treated in a Catholic hospital. The numbers are even bigger in poverty-stricken areas, especially in large urban areas. And the number of Catholic hospitals is increasing. In some areas, a Catholic hospital is the only option for treatment.
This has the American Civil Liberties Union worried. Catholic hospitals do not perform abortions or sterilizations. In the words of an ACLU report, “With the rise of Catholic hospitals has come the increasing danger that women’s reproductive health care will be compromised by religious restrictions.”
So because of this “danger,” the ACLU has been filing lawsuits in an effort to force them to violate their religious beliefs. Rather than doing so, of course, they would shut down. And this would be fine with the ACLU, which apparently no longer sees religious exercise as a “civil liberty.”
From Stephanie Slade, Why is the A.C.L.U. targeting Catholic hospitals? | America Magazine:
In 2015, that group filed a lawsuit alleging that hospitals in the Trinity Health system “use their religious identity to discriminate against, and harm, women.” The essence of the complaint was that these institutions conform to a document put out by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called Ethical and Religious Directives.
The Trinity Health case was eventually dismissed by a judge after the A.C.L.U. failed to show that any harm to the plaintiffs had actually occurred. But it is just one in a series of recent legal assaults on Catholic hospitals, spearheaded by the civil libertarian group over “access” to elective sterilization and emergency abortion procedures.
The campaign against these health care institutions has high stakes not just for the church but also for underserved communities. If the A.C.L.U. is successful in pressing one or more of its suits, “it very may well drive Catholic hospitals out of providing medical care,” Kevin Theriot, senior counsel and vice president at the public interest law firm Alliance Defending Freedom, said. . . .
For the A.C.L.U., the fact that faith-based hospitals are prevalent—providing the only source of hospital care in some locations—makes them more of a target for lawsuits. In its 2013 report “Miscarriage of Medicine,” the organization wrote that the “number of Catholic acute-care hospitals has been increasing rapidly” and that this is a problem: “With the rise of Catholic hospitals has come the increasing danger that women’s reproductive health care will be compromised by religious restrictions.”
Photo of Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center patient room, Boise, ID, by PatricksMercy, Flickr, Creative Commons License