ACLU: Catholic Hospitals’ Refusal To Perform Abortions a ‘Threat’ To Women

A sign for St. Vincent's Hospital on April 7, 2010 in New York City.
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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) claims that Catholic hospitals are engaging in “harm” and “discrimination” against women, transgender and “gender non-conforming” patients because the Catholic Church opposes abortion, contraception, and sterilization and does not offer these services at affiliated hospitals.

A new report by the ACLU, titled “Health Care Denied,” and written by Julia Kaye, Brigitte Amiri, Louise Melling, and Jennifer Dalven, uses data from MergerWatch – a champion of “reproductive health” whose aim is to promote the notion that “medical care that is based on religious doctrine or the provider’s moral beliefs represents a significant, though under-recognized, threat to patients’ rights and access to care at hospitals, clinics, managed care plans, pharmacies and even doctors’ offices across the nation.”

The report asserts that Catholic hospitals are a “threat to women’s health and lives.” The writers recommend government investigations of Catholic hospitals and make the suggestion that continued federal funding for these hospitals be contingent upon a requirement to perform abortions, sterilization procedures, and other “reproductive health care” services.

The ACLU writers claim that women are “denied medically indicated reproductive health care at Catholic hospitals, where religion too often takes precedence over medical standards.”

They continue:

The goal of this report is to shine a light on the harm and discrimination occurring at hospitals across this country and call for a change in our laws to ensure that these stories are not repeated. We note that while this report focuses on denials of reproductive health care to cisgender women, men who are transgender and gender-non-conforming patients who may not identify as women suffer similar harms when seeking reproductive health care. These patients often face additional discrimination on the basis of their gender identity when seeking this and other kinds of care at Catholic hospitals…

“Religious freedom in America means that we all have a right to our religious beliefs,” the authors write. “But it does not give us the right to use our religion to discriminate against and impose those beliefs on others who do not share them—especially when doing so comes at the expense of women’s health and lives.”

The ACLU has joined with Planned Parenthood in many of its lawsuits against states that have redirected its taxpayer funding to other health care facilities that do not perform abortions. Additionally, the abortion business and the civil rights group have joined together in challenging states that have passed laws requiring greater safety and health standards for abortion clinics – the same standards that are required of other outpatient surgical facilities. Yet, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU denounce these laws as an attempt to merely restrict abortion.


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