Catholic hospitals weigh civil disobedience

WASHINGTON (BP)--Roman Catholic hospitals in the United States will neither permit abortions to be performed in their facilities nor close their doors if the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) becomes law, a bishop says.

Robert Lynch, bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Petersburg, Fla., made those assertions after participating in a meeting of the Catholic Health Association (CHA). Writing on his weblog Feb. 6, Lynch said the CHA reaffirmed several actions, including:

-- If the federal government enacts legislation requiring health-care facilities to perform abortions, "we will not comply even if our actions constitute civil disobedience."

-- "No Catholic institution or employee of an institution can or will be made to violate the dictates of their conscience resulting from federal or state legislative or executive action."

-- "Even in the worst-case scenario, Catholic hospitals will not close. We won't comply but we will not close."

At least one Catholic leader has said the church's hospitals may have to close to avoid a mandate to do abortions. Lynch said, however, "Idle threats about the certain closing of Catholic hospitals if certain things happen are simply that -– 'idle.'"

FOCA, which President Obama has endorsed, would overturn all restrictions on abortion and abortion funding at all government levels, both pro-life and abortion-rights advocates have said. The measure has yet to be introduced in this Congress.


Compiled by Baptist Press Washington bureau chief Tom Strode.

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