It’s been quite a tumultuous month for religious freedom in the Bible Belt.
The media is in a frenzy over a Mississippi bill protecting the right of business owners not to promote or express a message that violates their religious beliefs. In North Carolina, citizens had barely had a chance to embrace the new state bill protecting their safety and privacy in public bathrooms and locker rooms before the American Civil Liberties Union moved to cripple it. That’s typical of a group whose now nearly 100-year-old legacy is built on undermining personal freedom in the oxymoronic name of … “civil liberties.”
It’s hard to picture a liberty more civil than the simple right to enter a bathroom and not be surprised (or menaced, in the case of many women and girls) by someone of another gender. There are common-sense ways to get around the embarrassment and the danger that protect the majority while addressing the particular needs of the minority – but the appeal of these seems to be lost on the ACLU, who have a very selective (if not very common-sense) way of deciding what amounts to freedom and whose to protect and whose to reject.
Consider Michigan, where ACLU attorneys filed a lawsuit aimed at compelling a Catholic hospital system and its workers to commit elective abortions – regardless of the fact that their whole reason for existence is to save, not end, life.
There’s no denying that Trinity Health Corporation makes a big target: the company operates 86 facilities in 21 states. By forcing Trinity to “endorse” abortion, the ACLU could effectively bring other faith-guided medical professionals across the country to heel, and undermine growing efforts nationwide to affirm legal protections for “rights of conscience.”
Several pro-life doctor groups – the Catholic Medical Association, the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists – asked Alliance Defending Freedom to intervene on their behalf in defense of Trinity. We did, and a federal court granted that intervention.
“No American should be forced to commit an abortion,” says ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot, “least of all faith-based medical workers who went into the profession to follow their faith and save lives, not take them. No law requires religious hospitals and medical personnel to commit abortions against their faith and conscience, and, in fact, federal law directly prohibits the government from engaging in any such coercion. As we argued in our brief to the court, the ACLU had no standing to bring this suit and demand this kind of government coercion.”
The court agreed, and on April 11 threw out the lawsuit, calling the ACLU’s claims of harm from the hospital system’s pro-life position “dubious,” since ACLU attorneys have produced no substantial evidence to support those claims.
“Those who doubt that anyone would ever try to force someone to commit an abortion need only look at this case,” says ADF Senior Counsel Matt Bowman. “This is precisely what the ACLU sought to do. The court came to the right conclusion in putting an end to their quest. The ruling relies on important case law that our pro-life medical group clients cited showing that the ACLU’s case was based on pure speculation.”
It’s a setback unlikely to stem for long the ACLU’s commitment to forcing abortion rights on Americans of all faiths, while stripping us of our religious freedoms. Legal actions like this one and the still-active efforts to reopen the bathroom and locker room doors of North Carolina underscore how far-reaching the impact of this group’s choices can be on our lives and faith, and on those of our children and grandchildren.
Please be in prayer for our ADF attorneys as they work to push back the ACLU legal agenda … and preserve the most basic and cherished freedom of all Americans: the right to live out their religious faith.