California Judge Sides with Catholic Hospital on Sterilizations

A San Francisco judge ruled in January that Mercy Medical Center’s policy against sterilization did not constitute sex discrimination, CBS News reported. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought a suit on behalf of Rebecca Chamorro after the hospital denied her a tubal ligation following her planned Cesarean delivery. This would have been a safer option than requiring her to travel 70 miles for an additional surgery at the nearest hospital that performs sterilizations. Dignity Health, the parent corporation for Mercy and 38 other hospitals, is “the largest hospital provider in California,” according to its website.

The ACLU argued that Mercy Medical Center had decided to allow another patient, Rachel Miller, to have a tubal ligation after her C-section, even though the bishops’ Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services prohibit sterilization for both men and women.

“The religious beliefs reflected in their operation are not to be interfered with by courts,” Superior Court judge Ernest Goldsmith stated about his decision regarding Catholic hospitals, according to the Guardian (UK).

Elizabeth Gill, senior attorney with ACLU of Northern California, took a different view in an inter¬view with MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry: “It’s as if the Catholic bishops are standing in the operating room and staying the doctor`s hand and preventing him from providing our client with the care she needs.”

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