Fidelity to Fertility

by Ryan Fitzgerald  •  •  September 14, 2015   

One Michigan hospital's refusal to do a sterilization has the ACLU in attack mode

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GRAND BLANC, Mich., September 14, 2015 ( - A Catholic hospital in Michigan has denied a sterilization procedure to one of its patients, and now the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is up in arms, threatening to sue.

The hospital, part of Genesys Health System, objects on religious grounds, as the Church teaches that direct sterilization is an intrinsically evil act.

The woman involved in the current dispute, 33-year-old Jessica Mann, was planning to have her third child at the hospital next month. Because of a brain tumor she has, her doctor is recommending that she refrain from having anymore children after this one. So the doctor advised that she undergo a tubal ligation during her upcoming Caesarean section as a form of sterilization.

She heard the hospital allowed for certain exceptions to its policy against tubal ligations and had asked to be considered for one, but after review, the hospital ruled that she doesn't qualify.

Now the ACLU is threatening legal action.

ACLU officials say the federal protections the hospital might normally appeal to aren't applicable in Mann's case. Further, since the hospital's policy pertains specifically to reproductive matters, they seem to think that means it affects women disproportionately, and in a harmful way.

"These ethical and religious directives," claims one ACLU lawyer, "single out women and care that women need."

In October 2014, Genesys released a memo clarifying that the aim of its policy against tubal ligations is to "strengthen our alignment with the Catholic Ethical and Religious Directives." These are the guidelines for Catholic hospitals released by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

On sterilizations, the directives state:

Direct sterilization of either men or women, whether permanent or temporary, is not permitted in a Catholic health care institution. Procedures that induce sterility are permitted when their direct effect is the cure or alleviation of a present and serious pathology and a simpler treatment is not available.

Mann is currently looking for another hospital where she can have her next baby delivered and also obtain the desired sterilization procedure.

Genesys adminstrators at the hospital are insisting she still have the baby at their hospital and then go through with the tubal ligation somewhere else later. Mann's doctor apparently believes this would be too risky an option.

The ACLU lately seems to be after hospitals that dare to remain faithful to the Church's teachings. Another Catholic hospital in California was recently under the same legal threats from the ACLU when it denied a woman a tubal ligation earlier this year. That hospital, Mercy Medical Center in Redding, ended up caving in and agreeing to the gravely immoral procedure.

As far as Genesys, it is only stating the following: "As a Catholic healthcare system, we follow the ethical and religious directives of the Church. Beyond that, we can't comment on this patient's particular case."


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