(Article changed on December 10, 2013 at 06:46)
Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) December 9, 2013: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a federal lawsuit against the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) regarding their ethical directives for Catholic hospitals. The ACLU lawsuit was filed on behalf of a Michigan woman, Tamesha Means.
Formally, the USCCB directives are known as "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Services," fifth edition (2009).
However, long before this lawsuit goes to trial, it is already on trial in the court of public opinion.
THE NEWS STORY IN THE NEW YORK TIMES
On December 2, 2013, the New York Times published a news story by Erik Eckholm titled "Bishops Sued Over Anti-Abortion Policies at Catholic Hospitals."
In his story Eckholm cites John M. Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, as saying that the USCCB directives "were more nuanced than critics allege, allowing for actions to treat a woman at risk even if that treatment might result in the loss of the fetus."
Nevertheless, Eckholm does not quote the relevant directive.
So I will quote it here: "47. Operations, treatments, and medications that have as their direct purpose the cure of a proportionately serious pathological condition of a pregnant woman are permitted when they cannot be safely postponed until the unborn child is viable, even if they will result in the death of the unborn child."
This directive is also not quoted in the complaint filed by the ACLU lawyers.
THE EDITORIAL IN THE NEW YORK TIMES
On December 8, 2013, the New York Times' Editorial Board weighed in with the editorial "When Bishops Direct Medical Care." But the Editorial Board does not give any evidence of being familiar with the directive I just quoted.
In any event, I will give some direct quotes here to highlight their editorial.
QUOTE (1): "These [USCCB] directives, which oppose abortion, inevitably collide with a hospital's duty to provide care to women in medical distress."
COMMENT (1): But has this supposedly inevitable collision been established beyond a reasonable doubt?