Today President Trump signed a new Muslim ban. The new executive order is a major retreat by the administration, reflecting that, as courts around the country have recognized, the original order was deeply flawed and totally unjustified. But the fundamental truth of this new order, like the old one, remains unchanged: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and the ban is his attempt to make good on that unconstitutional and indefensible goal.President Trump’s intentions regarding the Muslim ban have been clear. In a statement “ON PREVENTING MUSLIM IMMIGRATION” posted to his campaign website — and still available on it as I write — then-candidate Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Again and again, he refused to disown this proposal, expressing his opinion that “Islam hates us” and that there are “problems with Muslims coming into the country.”Instead of abandoning this odious idea in response to widespread criticism and outrage, Mr. Trump candidly explained that he would change the wording of his proposal but not its substance. “I’m looking now at territories,” he said. “People were so upset when I used the word Muslim. Oh, you can’t use the word ‘Muslim.’ Remember this. And I’m okay with that, because I’m talking ‘territory’ instead of ‘Muslim.’” Asked about the Muslim ban, he said, “[C]all it whatever you want. We’ll call it territories, okay?” Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York and advisor to the president, explained that Trump asked him to figure out “the right way” to establish the Muslim ban “legally” and that he and others settled on using the word “countries” to achieve Trump’s goal.Tell Your Senators to Oppose Muslim ban 2.0Sure enough, when the original Muslim ban was signed, it did not use the word “Muslim,” instead purporting to single people out for exclusion from the United States based on their nationality.But it was no coincidence that the seven countries singled out were all overwhelmingly Muslim, and account for over 80 percent of Muslim refugees entering the United States from 2014 to2016. It was no coincidence that the order carved out special treatment for certain religious minorities, which the president promptly explained was intended to help Christians. It was, in other words, no coincidence that the president who promised to ban Muslims from entering the United States signed an order that would ban a large number of Muslims from entering the United States.Courts refused to buy this transparent attempt to avoid the bedrock American commitment to freedom and equality among religions. As the ACLU’s legal director, David Cole, explained before the original order was signed, a government action motivated by intent to discriminate on the basis of religion is unconstitutional even if the text of the order does not name a particular religion to be harmed. Courts across the country agreed. And, starting with a temporary stay won by the ACLU and its partners at the National Immigration Law Center, the International Refugee Assistance Project, and the Worker & Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic the night after the Muslim ban was signed, courts have halted the ban — including a unanimous panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.In response to these court losses, the president has now signed a new order. The order backtracks dramatically — exempting not only green card holders but all current visa holders, delaying the implementation of the order, and eliminating some of its glaringly illegal elements. These changes further undercut the administration’s weak national security case for the ban, already rebutted by the government’s own assessments and the administration’s repeated delays in issuing it — including putting off the new order to seek favorable media coverage.Despite the substantial ground the president has now conceded in the face of his legal defeats, however, the heart of the order remains. The order still singles out individuals from six of the same overwhelmingly Muslim countries, as promised in the same repeated pledges to institute a Muslim ban, and does so purportedly based on the same debunked national security arguments. Indeed, any suggestion that this new order represents a clean break from the prior one or from the president’s comments is undercut by various statements coming out of the White House, describing the new order as “a revised policy” that would advance “the same basic policy outcome for the country.”Ultimately, in other words, the most fundamental flaw of the Muslim ban remains the same: It is still a ban, signed by a president who promised to bar Muslims from entering the United States, motivated by an intent to discriminate against Muslims, and that overwhelmingly affects Muslims rather than those of other faiths. Neither the president’s original offer to “call it whatever you want,” nor this most recent attempt to “revise” the order while pursuing “the same basic policy,” alters
LIVE: ACLU answers questions about immigration enforcement (ICE) activities in Oregon.
VIVO: ACLU hablando sober las actividades de ICE (agentes de inmigración) en Oregon, y lo que puedes hacer para mantenerse informado.
Here are some positive results from the events of the last two weeks. Copy and pasted from a friend.
For everyone who DID something, small or big, your efforts have been successful. Because of you:
Federal hiring freeze is reversed for VA (Veteran Affairs).
2. Court order partial stay of the immigration ban for those with valid visas.
3. Green card holders can get back in country.
4. Uber pledges $3M and immigration lawyers for its drivers after#DeleteUbertrends on Twitter.
5. Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) enrollment ads are still going to air.
6. The ACLU raised 24M over the weekend (normally 3-4Mil/year).
7. HHS, EPA, USDA gag order lifted.
8. EPA climate data no longer scrubbed from website.
9. More people of different career/religious/economic/race backgrounds are considering running for political office than ever before.
10. MOST importantly, since we live in a participatory democracy, the people are engaged.
While more is needed, sometimes you have to celebrate your wins. Stay vigilant, but also take self-care seriously. Activist burnout is a thing. Marathon, don’t sprint. #resist
(Feel free to copy and paste to share)
JAN. 28, 2017
President Trump’s executive order closing the nation’s borders to refugees was put into immediate effect Friday night. Refugees who were in the air on the way to the United States when the order was signed were stopped and detained at airports.
The detentions prompted legal challenges as lawyers representing two Iraqis held at Kennedy Airport filed a writ of habeas corpus early Saturday in the Eastern District of New York seeking to have their clients released. At the same time, they filed a motion for class certification, in an effort to represent all refugees and immigrants who they said were being unlawfully detained at ports of entry.
Mr. Trump’s order, which suspends entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, created a legal limbo for individuals on the way to the United States and panic for families who were awaiting their arrival.
Mr. Trump’s order also stops the admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely, and it bars entry into the United States for 90 days from seven predominantly Muslim countries linked to concerns about terrorism. Those countries are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
It was unclear how many refugees and immigrants were being held nationwide in the aftermath of the executive order. The complaints were filed by a prominent group including the American Civil Liberties Union, the International Refugee Assistance Project at the Urban Justice Center, the National Immigration Law Center, Yale Law School’s Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization and the firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton.
The attorneys said they were not allowed to meet with their clients, and there were tense moments as they tried to reach them.
“Who is the person we need to talk to?” asked one of the lawyers, Mark Doss, supervising attorney at the International Refugee Assistance Project.
“Mr. President,” said a Customs and Border Protection agent, who declined to identify himself. “Call Mr. Trump.”
The executive order, which Mr. Trump said was part of an extreme vetting plan to keep out “radical Islamic terrorists,” also established a religious test for refugees from Muslim nations: He ordered that Christians and others from minority religions be granted priority over Muslims.
In the arrivals hall at Terminal 4 of Kennedy Airport, Mr. Doss and two other lawyers fought fatigue as they tried to learn the status of their clients on the other side of the security perimeter.
“We’ve never had an issue once one of our clients was at a port of entry in the United States,” Mr. Doss said. “To see people being detained indefinitely in the country that’s supposed to welcome them is a total shock.”
“These are people with valid visas and legitimate refugee claims who have already been determined by the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to be admissible and to be allowed to enter the U.S. and now are being unlawfully detained,” Mr. Doss said.
According to the filing, Hameed Khalid Darweesh was granted a special immigrant visa on Jan. 20, the same day Mr. Trump was sworn in. He worked with the United States in Iraq in a variety of jobs — as an interpreter, engineer and contractor — over the course of roughly a decade.
Mr. Darweesh worked as an interpreter for the Army’s 101st Airborne Division in Baghdad and Mosul starting shortly after the invasion of Iraq on April 1, 2003. The filing said he had been directly targeted twice for working with the American military.
A husband and father of three, he arrived at Kennedy Airport Friday evening with his family. Mr. Darweesh’s wife and children made it through passport control and customs, but agents of Customs and Border Protection stopped and detained him.
Brandon Friedman, who worked with Mr. Darweesh as an infantry lieutenant with the 101st Airborne praised Mr. Darweesh’s work. “This is a guy that this country owes a debt of gratitude to,” Mr. Friedman said. “There are not many Americans who have done as much for this country as he has. He’s put himself on the line. He’s put his family on the line to help U.S. soldiers in combat and it is astonishing to me that this country would suddenly not allow people like that in.”
Mr. Friedman, who is chief executive of the McPherson Square Group, a communications firm in Washington, continued, “We have a moral obligation to protect and repay these people who risked their lives for U.S. troops.”
He said he feared for America’s military: “This not only endangers troops in the future, it endangers troops who are in combat now in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria wherever. If those interpreters and those fixers hear that the United States is not going to protect them then they don’t have any incentive to work with U.S. troops and there’s no way that we can operate without their support and assistance.”
“He is a brave individual and he cares about Iraq and he cares about the U.S.”
Mr. Alshawi was supposed to be reunited with his wife, who has been living in Texas. The wife, who asked to be identified by her first initial of D. out of concern for her family’s safety, wiped away tears as she sat on a couch in her sister’s house early Saturday morning, in a Houston suburb.
The woman, a 32-year-old who was born in Iraq, met her husband while both were students at a Baghdad college. The couple has one child — a 7-year-old son who is in first grade. The boy was asleep in the house at 3 a.m. Eastern time Saturday, oblivious to the fact that his father was in the United States, but under detention and the possible threat of return to Iraq.
Relatives crowded the living room in their pajamas and slippers, making and receiving phone calls to and from other relatives and the refugee’s lawyers. At times, D. was so emotional she had trouble speaking about her husband’s predicament.
She pulled out her cellphone and flipped through her pictures while seated on the couch. She wanted to show a reporter a picture she took of her son’s letter to Santa Claus. In November, at a Macy’s Santa-letter display at a nearby mall, the boy wrote out his wish: “Dear Santa: Can you bring my Dad from Sweden pls.” He has not seen his father in three years.
“I’m really breaking down, because I don’t know what to do,” she said. “It’s not fair.”
She and her relatives had not told her son that his father was finally coming to Houston and that his wish to Santa was about to come true. “It was a surprise for him,” she said.
Earlier in the day on Friday, she had watched news coverage about Mr. Trump’s executive order. “My husband was already on the airplane,” she said. “He got to the airplane at 11 o’clock in Houston time.” At that point, she grew worried about what impact the order would have on her husband, but she assumed it would not take effect immediately.
D., as well as her brother and her sister, asked that their full names not be used because they were concerned that publicity about the case would lead to harassment.
At about 2:30 a.m. Eastern time Saturday, Mr. Alshawi called his wife on her cellphone. They spoke for about five minutes. D. put the call on speaker so the rest of the family gathered at the house could hear. It was the first time D. and her husband spoke since he arrived at the airport in New York at about 8:30 p.m. Eastern timeFriday, she said. He flew from Stockholm to JFK Airport, and he was supposed to then fly from New York to Houston.
“He gave his package and his passport to an airport officer, and they didn’t talk to him, they just put him in a room,” she said. “He told me that they forced him to get back to Iraq. He asked for his lawyer and to apply for an asylum case. And they told him you can’t do that, you need to go back to your country.”
She said that the authorities at the airport told him that the president’s signing of the executive order was the reason he could not proceed to Houston.
D.’s brother added of the phone call with his brother-in-law, “He’s very calm but he’s, like, desperate. He said, ‘They are sending me there, they are sending me there,’ ” referring to Iraq.
Mayor-Elect Ted Wheeler Says Portland Will be a Sanctuary City for Immigrants, Despite Donald Trump’s Threats.
Trump has threatened to withhold federal funding from so-called “sanctuary cities.”
By Rachel Monahan , November 15, 2016
Portland Mayor-elect Ted Wheeler is expected to announce today that this city will continue to serve as a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants threatened with deportation.
Wheeler’s declaration comes in the faces of threats by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to crack down on what are called “sanctuary cities” by withholding federal funds.
“Portland is a city that values inclusion, diversity, and has been welcoming to thousands of people from around the world who now proudly call the Rose City home,” Wheeler tells WW.
“We will always see ourselves as a sanctuary city, and we will continue to be welcoming to everyone. President-Elect Donald Trump will be the president of all of America, and that requires an understanding of the values that drive Portland and other cities. These are our values.”
Trump hasn’t spelled out the details of his threat to withhold federal funds. It seems like likely, though, that he’s regurgitating the Republican talking point on cities that resist the Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s request to local law-enforcement to hold undocumented people in jail after an arrest so that feds can deport them.
But Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese, who runs local jails, is unlikely to change the department’s current practice of ignoring requests from ICE to hold people for an extra two business days.
(The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)
To change its policy would defy a U.S. District Court ruling from 2014. In that case, the judge ruled that Clackamas County had violated a woman’s constitutional rights by holding her at ICE’s request.
A newly reconfigured Supreme Court could reverse that ruling. In the meantime, there’s not much the Republicans could do. That doesn’t mean they won’t try to withhold funding.
“There’s reason to think that President-elect Donald Trump might do that,” says Mat dos Santos, legal director at the civil-liberties group, ACLU of Oregon. “Now we also strongly believe that that would unconstitutional.”
San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle all have sanctuary-city laws at the local level; Portland does not. In Oregon, it’s a state law that generally forbids state and local government resources from using public resources to enforce immigration laws.
The idea behind the laws is at least in part that everyone will be safer if undocumented immigrants can go to the police with information on crimes without fearing that they or whoever they are reporting will necessarily be deported.
“Immigrants are really deeply rooted in our communities and our families particularly in the Portland metro area,” says Dos Santos. “Having police help ICE carry out mass deportation will cause human suffering as families are torn apart. On a purely human emotional level, it’s important.”
Anti-immigrant groups are backing a ballot measure to repeal the law, while civil liberties groups see ways that the state or the city could further protect immigrants by declining to share information with the federal authorities.
Civil liberties groups say ICE seeks to deport undocumented people in cases where police charge someone for a minor crime.
“The tamale lady gets a violation because she’s selling on the street corners, and suddenly she’s being deported,” says Dos Santos.
Here’s what they don’t teach: When the blind-deaf visionary learned that poor people were more likely to be blind than others, she set off down a pacifist, socialist path that broke the boundaries of her time—and continues to challenge ours today.
posted Jul 12, 2012
“So long as I confine my activities to social service and the blind, they compliment me extravagantly, calling me ‘arch priestess of the sightless,’ ‘wonder woman,’ and a ‘modern miracle.’ But when it comes to a discussion of poverty, and I maintain that it is the result of wrong economics—that the industrial system under which we live is at the root of much of the physical deafness and blindness in the world—that is a different matter! It is laudable to give aid to the handicapped. Superficial charities make smooth the way of the prosperous; but to advocate that all human beings should have leisure and comfort, the decencies and refinements of life, is a Utopian dream, and one who seriously contemplates its realization indeed must be deaf, dumb, and blind.”
—Helen Keller (letter to Senator Robert La Follette, 1924)
The bronze statue of Helen Keller that sits in the U.S. Capitol shows the blind girl standing at a water pump. It depicts the moment in 1887 when her teacher, Anne Sullivan, spelled “W-A-T-E-R” into one of her 7-year-old pupil’s hands while water streamed into the other. This was Keller’s awakening, when she made the connection between the word Sullivan spelled and the tangible substance splashing from the pump, whispering “wah-wah,”—her way of saying “water.” This scene, made famous in the play and film “The Miracle Worker,” has long defined Keller in the public mind as a symbol of courage in the face of overwhelming odds.
Less well known (but no less inspiring) is the fact that Keller, who was born in 1880 and died in 1968, was a lifelong radical who participated in the great movements for social justice of her time. In her investigations into the causes of blindness, she discovered that poor people were more likely than the rich to be blind, and soon connected the mistreatment of the blind to the oppression of workers, women, and other groups, leading her to embrace socialism, feminism, and pacifism.
Keller was born on a plantation in Tuscumbia, Alabama, to Arthur Keller, a former Confederate officer and a conservative newspaper publisher, and Kate Keller, a descendant of John Adams. At nineteen months old, she lost her sight and hearing as a result of a fever. She became uncontrollable, prone to tantrums—kicking, biting, and smashing anything within reach. In that era, many blind and deaf people were consigned to an asylum. Some family members suggested that this was where Helen belonged.
Instead, her mother contacted the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston, which recommended that a former student, the 20-year-old Sullivan, become Helen’s private tutor. In 1887 Sullivan—the daughter of poor Irish immigrants and nearly blind herself—moved to the Kellers’ home. She helped calm Helen’s rages and channel her insatiable curiosity and exceptional intelligence. She patiently spelled out letters and words in Keller’s hand. With Sullivan’s support, her student soon learned to read and write Braille, and by the age of ten she had begun to speak.
Her story became well known and she, a celebrity. Newspapers and magazines in Europe and America wrote glowing stories about the young Keller. Her family connections and fame opened up many opportunities, including private schools and an elite college education. Mark Twain, who admired Keller’s courage and youthful writings, introduced her to Standard Oil tycoon Henry Huttleston Rogers, who paid for her education. She later acknowledged, “I owed my success partly to the advantages of my birth and environment. I have learned that the power to rise is not within the reach of everyone.”
In 1894, at 14, Keller began formal schooling—initially at the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf in New York and then at the Cambridge School for Young Ladies. Sullivan accompanied her, spelling into her hand letter-by-letter so she could read the books assigned in her classes. In 1900, at age 20, Keller entered Radcliffe College with Sullivan still at her side. At Radcliffe (from which she graduated magna cum laude in 1904), Keller was first exposed to the radical ideas that helped her draw connections among different forms of injustice. She began to write about herself and her growing understanding of the world.
“I Must Speak”
In a 1901 article entitled “I Must Speak” in the Ladies Home Journal,Keller wrote, “Once I believed that blindness, deafness, tuberculosis, and other causes of suffering were necessary, unpreventable. But gradually my reading extended, and I found that those evils are to be laid not at the door of Providence, but at the door of mankind; that they are, in large measure, due to ignorance, stupidity and sin.”
She visited slums and learned about the struggles of workers and immigrants to improve their working and living conditions. “I have visited sweatshops, factories, crowded slums,” she wrote, “If I could not see it, I could smell it.”
In 1908 Sullivan’s socialist husband, John Macy, encouraged Keller to read H. G. Wells’s New Worlds for Old, which influenced her views about radical change. She soon began to devour Macy’s extensive collection of political books, reading socialist publications (often in German Braille) and Marxist economists. In addition to giving inspirational lectures about blindness, Keller also talked, wrote, and agitated about radical social and political causes, making her class analysis explicit in such books as Social Causes of Blindness (1911), The Unemployed (1911), and The Underprivileged (1931). In 1915, after learning about the Ludlow Massacre—in which John D. Rockefeller’s private army killed coal miners and their wives and children in a labor confrontation in Colorado—Keller denounced him as a “monster of capitalism.”
In 1909 Keller joined the Socialist Party, wrote articles in support of its ideas, campaigned for its candidates, and lent her name to help striking workers. Although she was universally praised for her courage in the face of her physical disabilities, she now found herself criticized for her political views. The editor of the Brooklyn Eagleattacked her radical ideas, attributing them to “mistakes sprung out of the manifest limitations of her development.” In her 1912 essay “How I Became a Socialist,” published in the Call, a socialist newspaper, Keller wrote, “At that time, the compliments he paid me were so generous that I blush to remember them. But now that I have come out for socialism he reminds me and the public that I am blind and deaf and especially liable to error.”
Women’s Suffrage, Civil Rights, and War
Keller was part of wide circle of reformers and radicals who participated in a variety of overlapping causes. She was a strong advocate for women’s rights and women’s suffrage, writing in 1916: “Women have discovered that they cannot rely on men’s chivalry to give them justice.” She supported birth control and praised its leading advocate, Margaret Sanger, with whom she had many mutual friends. Keller argued that capitalists wanted workers to have large families to supply cheap labor to factories but forced poor children to live in miserable conditions. “Only by taking the responsibility of birth control into their own hands,” Keller said, “can [women] roll back the awful tide of misery that is sweeping over them and their children.”
She donated money to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)—then a young and controversial civil rights organization that focused on opposition to lynching and job and housing discrimination against African Americans—and wrote for its magazine. At an antiwar rally in January 1916, sponsored by the Women’s Peace Party at New York’s Carnegie Hall, Keller said, “Congress is not preparing to defend the people of the United States. It is planning to protect the capital of American speculators and investors. Incidentally this preparation will benefit the manufacturers of munitions and war machines. Strike against war, for without you no battles can be fought! Strike against manufacturing shrapnel and gas bombs and all other tools of murder! Strike against preparedness that means death and misery to millions of human beings! Be not dumb, obedient slaves in an army of destruction! Be heroes in an army of construction!”
In 1918 she helped found the American Civil Liberties Union, which was initially organized to challenge the U.S. government’s attempts to suppress the ideas of and jail or deport radicals who opposed World War I, including Socialists and members of the Industrial Workers of the World.
The following year she wrote a letter, addressed to “Dear Comrade” Eugene Debs, the Socialist labor leader and presidential candidate, in jail for advocating draft resistance during World War I. She wrote, “I want you to know that I should be proud if the Supreme Court convicted me of abhorring war, and doing all in my power to oppose it.”
In 1924, while campaigning for Senator Robert La Follette, the Wisconsin radical and anti-war stalwart who was running for president on the Progressive Party ticket, Keller wrote him a note: “I am for you because you stand for liberal and progressive government. I am for you because you believe the people should rule. I am for you because you believe that labor should participate in public life.”
After 1924, Keller devoted most of her time and energy to speaking and fundraising for the American Foundation for the Blind, but still supported radical causes. Even as feminism began to ebb, she continued to agitate for women’s rights. In 1932, she wrote an article for Homemagazine, “Great American Women,” praising the early suffragists Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She also penned a humorous article for the Atlantic Monthly, “Put Your Husband in the Kitchen.”
Between 1946 and 1957 she visited 35 countries on five continents. In 1948, Keller visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki, cities destroyed by American atomic bombs at the end of World War II, and spoke out against nuclear war.
In 1955, at the height of the Cold War, she wrote a public birthday greeting and letter of support to Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, a leading Communist activist, then in jail on charges of violating the Smith Act. In response, some supporters of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), for which Keller was the national face, threatened to withdraw their support. The AFB’s executive director wrote to one of his trustees, “Helen Keller’s habit of playing around with communists and near communists has long been a source of embarrassment to her conservative friends.”
The FBI kept Keller under surveillance for most of her adult life for her radical views. But Keller, who died in 1968, never saw a contradiction between her crusade to address the causes of blindness and her efforts to promote economic and social justice.
Keller is well known for being blind, but she also deserves to be heralded for her progressive social vision.
Dorothy Herrmann. Helen Keller: A Life. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.
John Davis. Helen Keller. New York: Ocean Press, 2003.
Kim Nielsen, The Radical Lives of Helen Keller. New York: New York University Press, 2004.
The Sacramento Bee, DECEMBER 29, 2015 5:27 PM
In its ongoing dispute with Catholic hospital officials in Redding, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Dignity Health, contending the hospital system is unlawfully denying women’s rights to contraception.
The suit is filed on behalf of Physicians for Reproductive Health and a Redding woman, Rebecca Chamorro, who requested a tubal ligation at Mercy Medical Center in Redding during her scheduled cesarean section in late January. Chamorro and her husband, who have two other children, want the procedure as a permanent form of contraception.
“The overarching issue is about women’s ability to access basic health care. It’s an incredibly common procedure used by a significant number of married women, but it’s being denied based on religious doctrine. It’s a real problem,” said Elizabeth Gill, a San Francisco-based attorney representing ACLU Northern California.
Chamorro, 33, did not respond to a request for an interview. She is one of three Redding women who contacted the ACLU after their doctor denied a request for a post-partum tubal ligation at Mercy Medical Center. In all three cases, the nearest hospital providing maternity services and covered by their insurance is out of town, from 70 to 160 miles away.
The three women are patients of Dr. Samuel Van Kirk, an obstetrician-gynecologist who practices in Redding and delivers babies at Mercy Medical Center. He was not available for interviews.
Van Kirk is a member of Physicians for Reproductive Health, a plaintiff in the ACLU lawsuit and a nationwide nonprofit that advocates for access to maternal care, including contraception. It has about 1,200 physician members in California.
In the lawsuit, Van Kirk states that 50 of his patients in the last eight years have been denied permission for post-partum tubal ligations at Mercy because of the hospital’s allegiance to Catholic doctrine.
In an emailed response, San Francisco-based Dignity Health officials declined to discuss the pending litigation, but issued a statement: “In general, it is our practice not to provide sterilization services at Dignity Health’s Catholic facilities,” in accordance with guidelines issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which state that Catholic health care organizations are not permitted to engage in actions that are “intrinsically immoral,” including sterilization for men (vasectomies) or women (tubal ligations).
However, the statement noted that Dignity’s non-Catholic hospitals, including Methodist Hospital of Sacramento, Sierra Nevada Memorial in Grass Valley and Woodland Healthcare in Woodland, abide by more general guidelines, which do not specifically cover tubal ligations but oppose abortions and in-vitro fertilizations.
Sterilizations, however, are permitted when “their direct effect is the cure or alleviation of a present and serious pathology and a simpler treatment is not available.”
Dr. Pratima Gupta, a Bay Area obstetrician and a spokeswoman for Physicians for Reproductive Health, said she was “both surprised and disappointed that (Dignity Health) would deny a woman pregnancy-related care. It demonstrates sex discrimination and provides poor quality of care.”
Gupta, who said she’s performed thousands of baby deliveries and hundreds of tubal ligations, said the procedure is safe and should not be denied to women who choose it.
“Health decisions should be made between a woman and her family and her doctor,” Gupta said.
In an earlier case, Redding resident Rachel Miller also was denied permission to have a tubal ligation at Mercy Medical. After the ACLU threatened a lawsuit on her behalf in August, Mercy officials re-reviewed her case and allowed her tubal ligation to proceed. The procedure took place in September, when Smith gave birth to her second daughter.
In Miller’s case, the hospital said it changed its mind after her doctor provided additional clinical information that fit with its criteria to allow tubal ligations to protect patients from future risk of pregnancies.
In a recent interview with The Sacramento Bee, Miller said having her “tubes tied” was “100 percent” the right choice for her family.
Like Miller, Chamorro wants her tubal ligation done in the hospital during her scheduled C-section to save the time, cost and potential trauma of a second surgery. In a tubal ligation, a woman’s fallopian tubes are closed off, preventing her eggs from reaching the uterus. It’s considered more cost-effective to do the procedure after a C-section, when a woman’s abdomen is open and she’s under anesthesia. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecology, tubal ligations are used by roughly a third of U.S. women using contraception.
A hearing is scheduled Jan. 5 in San Francisco Superior Court on the ACLU’s request for an emergency order allowing Chamorro to have her tubes tied. The Redding mother’s C-section is scheduled about three weeks later, on Jan. 28.