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Catholic health care system pushes back on ACLU sterilization case

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A Catholic health care system is pushing back on an administrative complaint from the ACLU on behalf of a woman who asked the faith-based health provider to sterilize her.

Ascension Health, the world’s largest Catholic health system, responded through a letter sent by the Alliance Defending Freedom to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asking the agency to reject the complaint.

Performing the procedure would go against the organization's religious convictions, ADF said in the letter. Catholic teaching prohibits sterilization — a procedure that ADF argues is easy to have performed by another non-religious health care facility.

“No one should be forced to perform or participate in a procedure when doing so would violate their conscience. This is especially true of medical workers and health care systems who are in the profession largely because of — and as an extension of — their faith,” ADF legal counsel Ken Connelly said. “Furthermore, no law requires religious hospitals and medical personnel to sterilize women, and, in fact, federal law specifically prohibits the government from engaging in any such coercion.”

The complaint was filed by the ACLU of Michigan after Genesys Regional Medical Center, an Ascension subsidiary, declined to sterilize the woman.

The letter asks the HHS for the complaint to be "summarily dismissed."

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