The Corner

Health Care

The Growing Threat to Religious Freedom in Health-Care Provision

Catholic hospitals around the country are on a collision course with the ACLU, the Democratic Party, and assorted social-justice secularists who insist that these religious institutions violate their own faith precepts in the provision of medical services.

In Washington State, a proposed merger between a secular and Catholic hospital systems has brought down the ire of the ACLU and other usual suspects, such as End of Life Washington and NARAL. From their joint press release:

Reproductive health, LGBTQ+, and end-of-life care advocates in Washington state are deeply concerned that CHI Franciscan, a religious health system, and Virginia Mason, one of the state’s few remaining large secular health systems, plan to merge. If the proposed merger moves forward, Virginia Mason will deny patients access to certain reproductive and end-of-life care options at their facilities.

Specifically, the ACLU wants to force the merged system to practice medicine in a secular fashion, meaning the Catholic hospital would be required to perform abortions, transgender surgeries, and assisted suicides — all legal in Washington, but all also prohibited in Catholic moral teaching.

There have already been several lawsuits filed against religious hospitals around the country for obeying the principles of Catholic health care, with the primary focus seemingly on hospitals denying transgender hysterectomies, abortions, and sterilizations. The Dignity Health case, in which the California Court of Appeals allowed a transgender man to sue for discrimination after the hospital refused a hysterectomy, is the most alarming.

Make no mistake: The Left is intent on destroying Catholic health care specifically and medical conscience generally. Medicare for All proposals ban “discrimination” in the provision of health care, meaning Catholic and other religious institutions and practitioners could be forced to violate their faith as the cost of remaining in business. The Democrats also promise to gut the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, so there might not be any safe harbor if that party takes over the government in November.

The attacks on medical conscience are likely going to increase into a nationwide legal conflagration, perhaps culminating with the Supreme Court determining whether the constitutional guarantee of free exercise of religion retains vigor or will be shriveled to a puny “freedom of worship” concept.

Buckle your seatbelts. It is going to be a bumpy ride.

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