Washington D.C., Dec 9, 2013 / 05:18 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A lawsuit against the U.S. bishops for teaching Catholic hospitals not to perform direct abortions is “misguided” and unfounded, says the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“This claim is baseless,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a Dec. 6 statement.
He explained that the Ethical and Religious Directives given to Catholic hospitals “urge respectful and compassionate care for both mothers and their children, both during and after pregnancy.”
On Nov. 29, the American Civil Liberties Union announced that it had filed suit against the U.S. bishops’ conference on behalf of Tamesha Means, a Michigan woman who was treated at Mercy Health Muskegon in 2010.
Means was 18 weeks pregnant when her water broke. She made three emergency visits to the Catholic hospital, and on the third visit, delivered the baby, who died less than three hours after birth.
The ACLU claims that the hospital was negligent because it did not tell Means “that terminating her pregnancy was an option and the safest course for her condition.”
The legal group said the woman was in “excruciating pain” and the pregnancy posed “significant risks to her health.” She also suffered “extreme distress” and an infection that can cause infertility, the organization said.
The Catholic Ethical and Religious Directives, updated most recently in 2009, seek to affirm the lives of both women and their children. The guidelines prohibit the direct killing of an unborn child through abortion. However, they allow for operations, treatments and medications for a pregnant woman in order to treat a “proportionately serious pathological condition,” even if doing so results in the child’s unintentional death.
Archbishop Kurtz expressed sympathy for the loss of Means’ child.
Because the bishops were not directly involved in the case in question, they cannot comment on it specifically, he said, but they can respond to the claim that their affirmation of all human life amounts to negligence.
The rules provided by the Ethical and Religious Directives reaffirm the Church’s teaching that “all human life, both before and after birth, has inherent dignity, and that health care providers have the corresponding duty to respect the dignity of all their patients,” Archbishop Kurtz explained, mirroring medical oaths that affirm the dignity of life.
This dedication to life and refusal to “approve the direct killing of their unborn children,” he continued, (Read More)