October 2015 Church & State | AU Bulletin

Mercy Medical Center in Redding, Calif., agreed to perform a tubal ligation after the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California threatened a lawsuit. Rachel Miller sought to have the procedure performed after undergoing a cesarean section at the facility.

The hospital refused to perform the procedure, in line with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ guidelines for Catholic medical facilities. In a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle, hospital administrators stated that “[I]n general, it is not our practice to provide sterilization services at Dignity Health’s Catholic facilities.”

The ACLU objected to that argument, noting that Mercy receives public funds for its work. “Hospitals that are open to the general public and that receive state money shouldn’t be able to use religion to discriminate or to deny important health care,” ACLU attorney Elizabeth Gill said.

In August, the hospital reversed its decision and agreed to perform the tubal ligation. In public statements, Miller applauded the move, noting that the nearest non-Catholic maternity facility was located more than 160 miles away in Sacramento.