ACLU Says Christians Should Be Forced to Perform Abortions

aclu3In a startling lawsuit, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has stated that employees of a Catholic hospital group should be required to perform abortions, even if that procedure violates their religious views.

Similar lawsuits have been filed by the ACLU here in Washington State, against Skagit Regional Health Clinic and the East Jefferson County Hospital in Port Townsend.

Trinity Health, which operates 86 health clinics in 21 states, including four clinics in the Pacific Northwest, was sued by the ACLU in October, when the group claimed that the group was “denying appropriate emergency care to women.”  Despite the guidelines set forth by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops prohibiting Catholics from terminating a pregnancy, the ACLU claims that the group has no legal protection to hide behind their rights of conscience.  Further, the lawsuit claims that Trinity’s refusal to provide abortions is a violation of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, a federal statute that, among other things, aims to ensure that emergency healthcare is not to be denied because of a patient’s inability to pay.

Read the lawsuit in its entirety here.

Trinity Health is being defending by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a national partner of the Family Policy Institute of Washington.  ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot said Thursday that, “not only is there no law that requires faith-based hospitals and medical personnel to commit such acts against their faith and conscience, federal law directly prohibits the government from engaging in any such coercion. Similarly, the government cannot tie any funding to a requirement that hospitals and health care workers give up their constitutionally protected freedoms.”

You can read more about Alliance Defending Freedom’s positioning in the case here.


February 6, 2015 Legislative Update Conference Call

Hosted by: Joseph Backholm

Topics: Parental Notification, Abortion Insurance Mandate (upcoming hearing), Sexual Orientation Change Therapy, Telemedicine & Webcam Abortions, Employer Contraceptive Mandate

Ruling: Owner of Arlene’s Flowers Can Be Personally Liable

Yesterday, Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Eckstrom ruled that Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, can be held personally liable in lawsuits that resulted from Arlene’s Flowers decision not to decorate for a same-sex ceremony.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed the first lawsuit against the Richland grandmother but a second lawsuit was later filed by the ACLU on behalf of the customers. The lawsuits were brought not only against Arlene’s Flowers but also against Barronelle Stutzman personally.

Lawyers for Mrs. Stutzman had argued that it was inappropriate to sue her personally because it was a decision made in the operation of her business, but Judge Eckstrom disagreed.

As a result of this decision, the government can go after both the business assets of Arlene’s Flowers and personal assets of Barronelle Stutzman to collect attorney’s fees should their lawsuits prevail.

Responding to the ruling, Kristen Waggoner, an Alliance Defending Freedom Attorney for Barronelle Stutzman and Arlene’s Flowers said, “In America, the government is supposed to protect freedom, not intimidate citizens into speaking and acting contrary to their faith under threat of severe punishment.  The government is sending a clear message to Barronelle and the people of Washington: dare to disagree with the government, and you put your home, your family business, and your life savings at risk.”

Judge Eckstrom is expected to rule on a summary judgment motion in the next week.

Trial is currently scheduled for March 23rd.

The narrow question of personal liability in a specific lawsuit is not itself a conspiracy against conscience rights and religious freedom.

However, there is little doubt that the government’s ability to go after the personal assets of business owners who prefer not to be part of certain events will continue to chill the free exercise of religion that until recently was celebrated and protected in America.

Whatever the outcome of this specific case, the real solution is a state legislature that respects a marketplace of ideas that makes room for people of different backgrounds, faiths, and perspectives.

But the legislature won’t act unless the public insists on it.

If you are concerned that the government is suing grandmothers because of their beliefs about marriage and sexuality, please contact your state legislators and ask them to support protections for conscience rights and religious freedom. Then encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Every American is guaranteed the freedom to live and work faithfully.

The Washington State Attorney General is working hard to change that.

Don’t let him win.