- The Washington Times - Friday, March 29, 2013

During spring renewal, when flowers blossom, grasses begin to green and a billion Christians celebrate a peerless Resurrection that occurred nearly 2,000 years ago, it’s a good time to reflect on one of Christendom’s most significant contributions to civilization: establishing hospitals.

Caring for the sick is a natural outgrowth of Jesus’ admonition to look after widows, orphans and the weak, and to be kind; that is, “hospitable.”This innovation ended pagan practices that were not especially compassionate, despite the introduction during the fourth century B.C. of the Hippocratic Oath for physicians to “above all, do no harm.”The oath said: “I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly, I will not give a woman a pessary [device] to cause an abortion.”

With revisions here and there, this was more or less good enough for doctors until 1964, when the oath was “updated” by Tufts University Academic Dean of Medicine Louis Lasagna in a way that leaves plenty of room for not only abortion, but euthanasia. It partly reads: “If it is given to me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play God.”Of course, abortionists and Suicide Jack Kevorkian’s disciples don’t think that they’re playing God; they’re just facilitating “choice.”

Today, faith-based hospitals, particularly Catholic institutions, are a core component of America’s health care system, and they observe the real Hippocratic Oath, not Dr. Lasagna’s cheesy version. That’s why they are being targeted for liberal abuse.

Perhaps emboldened by the rule in Obamacare that forces even faith-based institutions to offer health insurance covering abortion and sterilizations, the Seattle-based chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is rattling its sword, and maybe even its Starbucks decorative mugs, at health officials.

Speaking of Starbucks, the coffee company’s CEO recently told proponents of traditional marriage at the annual stockholders meeting to take their money elsewhere if they don’t like the liberal company’s mad, mad love for same-sex marriage.

But let’s get back to the Seattle branch of the devil’s law firm, which is threatening to sue to prevent public-private partnerships, approval of new Catholic hospitals and a proposed consolidation of Catholic hospital chains.The problem is that these hospitals are strictly about healing. That’s been the mission of Christian hospitals since Roman times. Because the church won’t offer contraceptives, abortifacients, abortions, sterilizations or euthanasia, the ACLU says the state should think twice about approving any new church-run hospitals.

“We’re very troubled by what’s going on,” said Sarah Dunne, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington Foundation. According to The Columbian online news site, the ACLU “is pressing its case on several fronts, including the possibility of legal action.”“The group also is challenging proposed partnerships between Vancouver-based PeaceHealth and other health care providers,” the report notes.

Consolidations and mergers could leave rural communities with only Catholic hospitals. That would be awful, because these places refuse to kill people. Well, that’s not exactly how the ACLU puts it, so let’s let them speak for themselves:

“As a government entity, the hospital district should not subsidize religious facilities that discriminate against women’s fundamental rights,” Kathleen Taylor, executive director of the ACLU’s operation in Seattle, wrote to district officials. Women, according to the ACLU, have a God-given right to force Catholic hospitals to kill unborn babies and to perform euthanasia.

Maybe Isis would go for that, or Baal, but certainly not the Creator cited by America’s Founders in the Declaration of Independence as the source of our unalienable rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Later this year, the proposal by PeaceHealth and Colorado-based Catholic Health Initiatives to join forces will undergo a public review. The ACLU wants the merger stopped on grounds of — what else? — church-state entanglement.It’s not hard to imagine how the ACLU would like things to turn out. It would be a world in which you could use government power to force Catholic and other faith-based institutions to violate their consciences, or to force them out of business entirely in favor of strictly secular hospitals.As the great thinker “Socrates” Lasagna might say, choose your poison.Above all, it would be a world quite harsher than that envisioned by the Christian founders of hospitals, and by Jesus, who said, “I am the bread of life,” and who died so that life never would.

Robert Knight is senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a columnist for The Washington Times.

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