ACLU loses bid to force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions

Alliance Defending Freedom announced today that the ACLU sued – and lost – in their bid to force a Catholic hospital system to perform abortions.

The ACLU claimed in their lawsuit, filed last December, that Trinity Health Corporation, which operates 86 facilities in 21 states, had harmed women because of their adherence to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services which “prohibit Catholic hospitals from terminating the pregnancy of a woman suffering a pregnancy complication, even if such care is urgently needed to protect a woman’s health or life.”

Alliance Defending Freedom reports:

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,” explaining that they haven’t satisfied the legal requirements to demonstrate such harm and therefore bring a lawsuit.

In March of 2016, the federal court allowed the Catholic Medical Association, the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists to intervene in the lawsuit against Trinity, as all the groups would have been affected by the court’s decision in the case.


ADF Senior Counsel Matt Bowman said the ACLU’s case was “based on pure speculation,” and ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot stated that “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 also notes that the court, in its dismissal, stated that the ACLU could not prove that anything had actually “happened to warrant court action,” and that “alleged harm” to anyone was purely “speculative”:

The court additionally found that, for those reasons and others, the lawsuit is not “ripe for review,” meaning that nothing has happened to warrant court action: “Obviously, pregnancy alone is not a ‘particular condition’ that requires the termination of said pregnancy. 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.”

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