ACLU threatens Catholic hospital over sterilization case

ACLU threatens Catholic hospital over sterilization case

Rachel Smith of California had requested to have her tubes tied following the delivery of her baby, but the Catholic hospital refused.

The American Civil Liberties University went on the offensive against a Catholic hospital that refused to sterilize a woman after she gives birth next month, and the hospital has backed down.

The ACLU had threatened to slap Mercy Medical Center with a sex discrimination lawsuit unless it agrees to tie the tubes at the request of Rachel Miller, who is scheduled to have a C-section to deliver her baby next month, according to an SFGate report. The hospital is owned by Dignity Health of San Francisco, the largest private health care company in the state.

The Catholic hospital had refused in abiding with its Ethical and Religious Directives, which ban sterilization among other reproductive practices. However, the hospital caved after attorneys with the ACLU threatened to sue if religious grounds were used to deny Miller the care she had requested. Mercy Medical Center met the ACLU’s deadline for a response and agreed to the surgery after notifying Miller’s doctor that it would reconsider its position.

This means Miller’s case is over, but because the policy is still in place, the ACLU believes it may lead to future legal challenges, according to ACLU attorney Elizabeth Gill as quoted in the report. She said that she was happy for Miller, but because the policy is still effective, many women are being denied the care they desire because Catholic bishops are making decisions that medical professionals should be making.

Miller said she hopes her case will help other women in the future, arguing that sterilization was her decision alone and that only her family and doctor should be involved in it.

Dignity Healthy initially did not comment, but eventually noted that the sex discrimination claim would have been baseless as it applies to both genders.

Women are also restricted from getting abortions and in vitro fertilization at the hospital under its policy.



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