Jul 9, 2019
The topic of abortion seems to have gained more momentum in
the news cycle of late with states passing laws relaxing or
loosening restrictions on the practice. It feels like the 1973
ruling of Roe v. Wade might actually come before the US Supreme
Court with a chance of reversing or affirming the 46 year old
As a physician and hospital, the social and ethical questions
that surround abortion are both personal and professional. What is
the obligation of institutions to perform abortions? How about the
physicians or nursing staff? Do you have a legal obligation to
perform a procedure that you find morally reprehensible?
To answer those questions, today I have Stephanie Slade on the
show from Reason
magazine. Stephanie is a managing editor and follows the public and
legal debate on the subject. She wrote a piece for the
magazine a year ago documenting the
efforts of the ACLU to compel catholic hospitals to perform
abortions and other reproductive health procedures (sterilization,
gender reassignment, etc.).
As with all political discussions, this one is nuanced and
also uniquely American as our legal focus is heavily directed by
our founding documents and the Bill of Rights. What role freedom of
speech and association has for private institutions like catholic
charities and what rules can the government impose on those same
hospitals is what is under dispute with these ACLU directed claims.
The ACLU believes that hospitals are a uniquely public institution
that provides critical care to large populations and therefore
should be compelled to perform abortions and other medical
procedures that the catholic church finds morally
To date, the ACLU has been unsuccessful in any of their
lawsuits even with sympathetic federal judges who point to the
first amendment as the basis for their rulings. However, the ACLU
is now bringing forth cases of gender reassignment against the
catholic church to see if that issue will bring a different ruling.
Finally, as state legislatures continue to pass laws that allow
abortion up to the moment of birth or ban abortion as soon as a
heartbeat is present (~6 weeks gestation or around when a typical
urine pregnancy test is positive) the US Supreme Court may feel its
hands are tied and have to reexamine Roe v. Wade.
Stephanie Slade is the managing
editor for Reason magazine where she writes but mostly edits. She
also writes for the American and resides in Washington, D.C.
Why is the ACLU Targeting Catholic Hospitals?: Stephanie
Slade's article that we discuss during the show highlighting the
history of the catholic church and charitable ministries in the US
and the ACLU's attempts to force the hospitals to perform
Reason magazine: Where
Stephanie Slade is managing editor. The magazine is dedicated to
advancing libertarian thought and "Free Minds and Free
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