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Judge sides with Catholic hospital in fight over contraceptive healthcare


RONNIE COHEN

Source:
The Guardian
Type:
Media/Opinion
Date:
1/14/2016

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ABSTRACTJudge sides with Catholic hospital in fight over contraceptive healthcare | Society | The Guardian Close Skip to main content sign in Saved for later Comment activity Edit profile Email preferences Change password Sign out subscribe search jobs more from the guardian: jobs change edition: switch to the UK edition switch to the AU edition switch to the INT edition US edition switch to the UK edition switch to the Australia edition switch to the International The Guardian home home US world opinion sports soccer tech arts lifestyle fashion business travel environment science browse all sections close Contraception and family planning Judge sides with Catholic hospital in fight over contraceptive healthcare The California hospital cited ‘ethical and religious directives’ and refused to allow a doctor to tie the woman’s tubes immediately following childbirth Rebecca Chamorro plans to deliver her baby by cesarean section in Redding, California, at the end of the month and would like her physician to tie her tubes immediately following the birth. Photograph: ERproductions Ltd/Getty Images/Blend Images Ronnie Cohen in San Francisco @ronnie_cohen Thursday 14 January 2016 17.52 EST Last modified on Thursday 14 January 2016 18.23 EST Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via Email Share on Pinterest Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+ Share on WhatsApp A San Francisco judge on Thursday refused to order a Catholic hospital to allow an obstetrician to use its facility to sterilize a woman just after the birth of her third child. In denying the American Civil Liberties Union’s emergency request, superior court judge Ernest Goldsmith recognized the right of a Catholic hospital to adhere to its ethical and religious dictates. “The religious beliefs reflected in their operation are not to be interfered with by courts,” Goldsmith said during an hour-long hearing in San Francisco. “There’s no law that says that hospitals are mandated to perform sterilizations.” The case, brought by the ACLU, spotlights increasing tension over women’s rights to contraceptive healthcare in Catholic institutions. Rebecca Chamorro plans to deliver her baby by cesarean section in Redding, California , at the end of the month and would like her physician to tie her tubes immediately following the birth. But Mercy Medical Center Redding, a Catholic hospital with the only delivery room in a 70-mile radius of Chamorro’s home in the rural northern reaches of the state, cited “ethical and religious directives” and refused to allow her doctor to perform the tubal ligation. In 2009, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued orders that generally prohibit sterilization in Catholic hospitals and call it “intrinsically evil”. Goldsmith ruled that the ACLU is unlikely to win its discrimination case because the hospital’s sterilization policy applies equally to men and women. The judge also found that Chamorro could have the elective procedure in another hospital. In addition, he found insufficient evidence that the hospital allowed other tubal ligations solely for contraceptive purposes. The ACLU challenged the use of religious directives to deny tubal ligations in a lawsuit it filed last month on behalf of Chamorro and Physicians for Reproductive Health, a nonprofit, and against the hospital and its parent, Dignity Health of San Francisco – California’s largest hospital provider. The suit alleges sex discrimination because the prohibition against sterilization disproportionately impacts women. The ACLU also contends that the hospital arbitrarily allowed some women to have the common surgical procedure while refusing it to others. “It’s unbelievable that the hospital where my doctor has admitting privileges is denying him the ability to provide a safe, legal and common procedure, especially considering that Mercy is my only real option,” Chamorro said in an email. Following the hearing, Elizabeth Gill, an ACLU attorney, said she disagreed with the judge’s ruling and was considering whether to appeal it. “Catholic hospitals have been aggressively expanding over the past 15 years, and as our client is experiencing, they’re the only option for care in a lot of cases,” she said. Barry Landsberg, Dignity Health’s attorney, told the judge: “This is a request for a Catholic hospital to forsake ethical and religious directives. This is.......