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Federal judge dismisses ACLU case against Trinity Health over abortion issue

Apr 11, 2016

Credit Jim Renaud / Creative Commons

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit the ACLU filed in 2015 against a Roman Catholic hospital group. The lawsuit challenged the hospital group’s anti-abortion policy.

Livonia-based Trinity Health operates 86 facilities in 21 states.

The ACLU alleges pregnant women who develop complications are being discriminated against at Trinity’s hospitals because the Catholic health group won't terminate pregnancies.

“No American should be forced to commit an abortion—least of all faith-based medical workers who went into the profession to follow their faith and save lives, not take them,” Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Kevin Theriot said in a written statement.

ADF intervened in the case on behalf of pro-life physician groups.

In an opinion released Monday, a judge ruled the ACLU has no standing to sue Trinity. The judge says the group failed to explain, specifically, what medical conditions would place their members at risk or if they are currently at risk.

The ACLU declined an interview for this story but issued this written statement:

"Today’s decision to dismiss this important case has grave implications for the many pregnant women and their loved ones who remain at risk of being turned away by hospitals where religious leaders are playing doctor. It is important to recognize that the court’s decision says nothing about whether Trinity’s policies of withholding emergency abortions from women is lawful. We are considering next steps in this case and will continue to fight for pregnant women who are denied potentially life-saving care because doctors are forced to follow religious directives rather than best medical practices. We all have a right to our religious beliefs, but that does not mean we should be able to use those beliefs to harm others,” ACLU Staff Attorney Alexa Kolbi-Molinas said. 

And Trinity Health issued this statement:

"We are pleased that the ruling we expected to receive, consistent with our belief that the case had no merit, was handed down today by the judge. This is the second instance in less than 10 months that a federal court has dismissed similar ACLU claims. The 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."