Becket Fund to Defend Religious Hospitals against Government-ordered Abortions

In a letter on Thursday, August 19, 2010, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty threatened to sue the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) if it tried to force religiously affiliated hospitals to perform abortions against the conscientious objections of their doctors and nurses. The Becket Fund wrote to HHS in response to an ACLU letter which pressures HHS into forcing religiously affiliated hospitals across this country to perform abortions. After sending the letter, the ACLU called on its multi-thousand membership to mount a letter campaign to demand abortion services at Catholic hospitals.

“We will represent, pro bono, any religious hospital or its personnel that HHS threatens because of their conscientious objection to abortion,” said Kevin “Seamus” Hasson, President of the Becket Fund. “And we will, if necessary, sue to block any such proposed policy.”

The letter pointed out that conscience has been protected in the medical profession in this country since Roe v. Wade. It further argued that the ACLU misinterprets the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (“EMTALA”), a law initially designed in part to protect the conscience rights of healthcare workers, and in doing so, overturns 25 years of caselaw.

“The ACLU has no business radically re-defining the meaning of ‘emergency health care,’” writes Becket Fund President Kevin “Seamus” Hasson. “Just as it has no business demanding that religious doctors and nurses violate their faith by performing a procedure they believe is tantamount to murder. Forcing religious hospitals to perform abortions not only undermines this nation’s integral commitment to conscience rights, it violates the numerous federal laws that recognize and protect those rights.”

Forcing Catholic or any religiously-affiliated hospital to perform abortions will only result in nationwide closures, thereby reducing access to healthcare for everyone, a blow the healthcare system could not weather. Legally forcing doctors and nurses to perform abortions in violation of their consciences would constitute a large step backwards for religious freedom and would turn this nation’s foundational commitment to conscience rights on its head.

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