February 23, 2024

Good will hits a church-state barrier in US

On Oct 1st the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Trinity Health Corporation – one of the largest Catholic healthcare providers in the US.

After a brief cease-fire during Pope Francis’ visit to the US, firebrand secularists have resumed their crusade against Catholic healthcare. Here’s one example: On Oct 1st the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Trinity Health Corporation – one of the largest Catholic healthcare providers in the US –for prohibiting abortions, tubal ligations, and the prescription of contraceptives in its hospitals. The ACLU has based its suit on what it sees as a “repeated and systematic failure to provide women suffering pregnancy complications with appropriate emergency abortions as required by federal law”.

In a formal complaint submitted to a Michigan District Court ACLU attorney Jennifer B. Salvatore claimed that Trinity Health’s policies – informed by the US Catholic Bishops Conference’s (USCBC) Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare Services – were in breach of the US Congress Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act 1986. This law requires that anyone coming to an emergency department be stabilized and treated, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. The ACLU argues that means performing an abortion if that is the standard of care in an emergency when the mother’s life is on the line.

Trinity has vowed to fight the claims, and noted in a statement that a federal court recently dismissed a similar ACLU suit against Mercy Health Partners.

“A federal court already dismissed a similar ACLU claim, and we will seek dismissal of this suit for the same reason…”

Bioethicist Arthur Caplan agrees with the ACLU claim:

“…Catholic hospitals are not private entities. They took in $115 billion in 2011 alone from Medicare and Medicaid. They also get tax exemptions and other public money… Hospitals awash in public funds are duty bound to follow the law not religious directives.”

But Trinity Health spokeswoman Eve Pidgeon said there was no tension between Trinity’s practices and the provision of adequate medical care. “The [USCBC] ethical and religious directives are entirely consistent with high-quality health care, and our clinicians continue to provide superb care throughout the communities we serve.”

ACLU sues Trinity Health Corporation
Xavier Symons
Creative commons
Church and state