Sex discrimination and corporate practice of medicine laws
In another case, the ACLU threatened to sue Dignity Health’s Mercy Medical Center Redding (Calif.) for denying Rachel Miller’s request for tubal ligation at the time of her C-section.
The ACLU argued the decision constituted sex discrimination, which is prohibited by California and federal law. Women must be allowed to receive procedures in line with standards of care, the ACLU argued.
Laycock said the argument doesn’t seem strong. But Hill said it might carry some weight.
The ACLU also alleged that the hospital violated the state’s corporate practice of medicine law by inserting its corporate entity’s religious beliefs into the decision about Miller’s care.
Elizabeth Sepper, an associate law professor at Washington University, called the argument “clever” but noted that it couldn’t be used nationwide because not all states have such laws.
Mercy ultimately agreed to allow the tubal ligation, the ACLU said. Dignity said in a statement that it can’t discuss specific patient care but its practice is to not provide tubal ligations except on a case-by-case basis when a formal review by a committee of physicians and others gives permission. It said the hospital has always and will continue to operate in accordance with the Catholic directives and medical staff bylaws. Brigitte Amiri, an ACLU senior staff attorney, said the ACLU stands ready to evaluate additional stories from other women to see if more legal action is warranted. The organization is trying a number of legal approaches, she said.
“We’re still at the beginning wave of these attempts to try to get the law enforced,” Amiri said.