Catholic Group Slams DOJ After Abortion Lawsuit Dismissal

The Department of Justice is taking heat for its dismissal of a lawsuit brought by the Trump administration last year against the University of Vermont Medical Center.

The chairmen of the U.S. bishops’ religious liberty and pro-life committees said Thursday that the Justice Department “is acting in dereliction of its duty to enforce the plain meaning of federal law” by voluntarily dismissing a lawsuit against a hospital that forced nurses to assist in elective abortions against their religious beliefs.

The lawsuit, filed in December 2020, came after the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found the university’s medical center had forced up to 10 nurses to participate in nearly 20 elective abortions despite their conscientious objections.

On July 30, the Justice Department filed a one-page notice of voluntary dismissal of the action. The Justice Department did not offer much explanation for the decision, but an HHS spokesperson told Fox News that ”after a detailed evaluation of the underlying legal theory used to issue a referral to the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services withdrew the original referral and requested DOJ dismiss the suit against the University of Vermont Medical Center, a request which was granted.”

“It is hard to imagine a more horrific civil rights violation than being forced to take an innocent human life,” said Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

“This is not only deeply wrong, but a violation of federal law,” they said. “We call on the administration to stand up for the basic dignity of our nation’s health care workers by reopening this case, and on Congress to pass the Conscience Protection Act so that doctors and nurses can defend their own rights in court.”

The Catholic bishops were not the only ones expressing outrage at the voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit. Earlier this week, 84 House Republicans sent a scathing letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra that called the dismissal a ”profound miscarriage of justice.”

The legislators charged the Biden administration with a ”coordinated decision to seek a voluntary dismissal in the lawsuit against the University of Vermont Medical Center for knowingly, willfully and repeatedly violating federal conscience-protection laws.”

The lawmakers also concluded that the DOJ’s actions “signal that this administration would rather allow consciences to be violated at the behest of the abortion lobby rather [than] enforce the law and protect religious liberty.”

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