Judge Says Catholic Hospital Can’t Be Forced to Sterilize

News: Government
by Rodney Pelletier  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  January 8, 2016   

Federal court rejected ACLU motion forcing hospital to act against its mission

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SAN FRANCISCO (ChurchMilitant.com) - A state court has denied a motion forcing a Catholic hospital in California to perform a sterilization procedure.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a request on Tuesday to force Mercy Medical Center — a Catholic hospital — to perform the procedure on a patient while the case is still pending. The judge refused, saying more time is needed to review the case. The ACLU is expected to file another motion next week.

If the motion is allowed, the hospital would be forced to perform the procedure before the case is resolved. This would be advantageous to the plaintiff because she is due to give birth within the next few weeks.

Dignity health, the owner of Mercy Medical Center, issued a statement: "We are pleased by the court's decision to deny the ACLU's request for the TRO [temporary restraining order] which will allow Dignity Health to continue to operate consistent with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services."

ChurchMilitant.com reported earlier that the plaintiff, Rebecca Chamorro, already has two children with her husband and decided she wants a tubal ligation after her third is born. The procedure is typically performed immediately after a baby is delivered by c-section. Her doctor agreed but the hospital disallowed it.

The ACLU, which is representing Chamorro, maintains Mercy Medical and Dignity Health are engaging in "sexual discrimination" against Chamorro, saying California law "does not permit hospitals open to the general public and supported by public funds to deny patients medically indicated pregnancy-related care. Nor does it permit corporate entities to elevate their theological tenets over patient health."

Dignity Health made a statement maintaining that tubal ligations can't be performed by Catholic hospitals and that if they won't offer the procedure, they will direct a patient to another hospital that will.

A lawyer for Mercy Medical commented that the hospital can't be guilty of "sexual discrimination" because it refuses sterilization procedures for men as well. California law, however, states that any refusal of "reproductive services" to a woman is sexual discrimination.

Mercy Medical and Dignity Health are also being sued by Physicians for Reproductive Health, a group of doctors promoting abortion, contraception and sterilization around the world.

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