Blog Post

ACLU Seeks to Force Religiously-Affiliated Hospitals to Provide "Emergency" Abortions

by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Journalist The American Civil Liberties Union has sent a letter to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services asking it to ensure that religiously-affiliated hospitals provide emergency "abortions" as required by federal law. In a letter dated July 1, the ACLU asks the Centers "to investigate situations in which patients' lives and health were jeopardized as a result of hospitals' adherence to religious doctrine, rather than medical ethics." The letter was sent in response to the case that occurred in a Catholic hospital in Phoenix last year when Sister Margaret McBride excommunicated herself, and was later demoted, after authorizing an abortion on a woman who was suffering from pulmonary hypertension. "While the hospital in this case made the right decision in saving this woman's life, the subsequent treatment of the staff could have a chilling effect on the staff at hospitals across the country that may face similar situations in the future," said Daniel Pochoda, Legal Director of the ACLU of Arizona. "Religiously-affiliated hospitals – which are often the only hospital in a particular area – are not exempt from providing critical care to patients who come through their doors." The press release goes on to say that the situation in Phoenix is part of a "worrying pattern" of religiously-affiliated hospitals denying emergency 'reproductive care' to patients.  "The law rightly requires hospitals to provide life-saving medical care to their patients," said Vania Leveille, ACLU Legislative Counsel. "The government must ensure that the well-being of the patient does not take a back seat to religious beliefs." The ACLU is asking the Centers to issue a formal clarification that denying emergency reproductive health care violates the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) and the Conditions of Participation of Medicare and Medicaid (COP). "These are serious charges," writes pro-life activist, Jill Stanek, R.N. " A hospital found in violation could lose its Medicare/Medicaid funding, which is likely its major artery to financial survival." She adds: "Given the radically pro-abortion ideology of Obama and his administration, including Sebelius, it is right to worry this may not end well." Stanek reminds that more than a year ago, Obama promised to overturn measures set in place by President Bush to enforce the legal right of conscience of medical facilities and personnel, but he has not yet done so. "The ACLU may be growing impatient," she suggests. "Or perhaps the Obama administration and the ACLU have decided together the Phoenix incident is a good trigger." © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®