Analysis

Abortionist claims pro-abortion hospital is discriminating by keeping her off TV

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Abortionist Diane Horvath-Cosper has filed a civil rights complaint against her employer, MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington D.C., for forbidding her from advocating for abortion in the media.

MedStar claims they’ve been denying her requests to make media appearances to avoid alleged anti-abortion violence, while Horvath-Cosper claims that the hospital is illegally discriminating against her based on her pro-abortion views.

A hospital that does abortions having anti-abortion biases? Now I’ve heard everything…

“She has a deep moral conviction that as a doctor she has a moral duty and obligation to speak about this as a medical procedure and to take every action she can to destigmatize this,” said Debra Katz, Horvath-Cosper’s private attorney. “By doctors speaking out, it does in fact do that.”

According to the complaint, on Dec. 4, 2015, Horvath-Cosper was ordered by Dr. Gregory Argyros, the hospital’s chief medical officer, to stop speaking publicly about abortion because he “did not want to put a K-Mart blue light special on the fact that we provide abortions at MedStar.”

Donna Arbogast, MedStar vice president of public affairs and marketing, said in a statement that the hospital “is committed to providing family planning services for our community, and we do so in a respectful, private and safe environment. We look forward to cooperating fully with the Office of Civil Rights.”

Cosmopolitan’s Prachi Gupta presents the story as that of a heroic abortionist fighting violent stigma with information. Slate’s Jennifer Conti declares “I’m proud to know her” and thanks her “for having the ovaries to stand up for women everywhere.” Neither seem particularly interested in the legal merits of her complaint.

Horvath-Cosper argues her right to advocate for abortion despite the hospital’s wishes comes from the 1973 Church Amendment, one of the oldest federal conscience protections. In addition to protecting the right not to participate in abortion, it also prohibits federally funded health entities from “discriminat[ing] in the employment, promotion, or termination of employment of any physician” on the grounds that the physician has participated in or performed abortions, or because of their “religious beliefs or moral convictions respecting sterilization procedures or abortions,” either for or against.

To say keeping Horvath-Cosper from TV interviews or op-eds constitutes “discrimination” under that language is a stretch—so much so that one of her attorneys, Gretchen Borchelt of the National Women’s Law Center, admitted “she was unaware of a previous complaint that cited the law on behalf of a doctor who feels a moral obligation to advocate for abortion rights.”

It’s no mystery why. Her beliefs aren’t at issue; if they were, the hospital wouldn’t be allowing abortions on their premises to begin with. And we’re not talking about her discussing the issue with colleagues or friends, putting up a yard sign, or slapping bumper sticker on her car, but television and press appearances that generate a public association between abortion advocacy and the hospital.

Mind you, I’m all for abortion-friendly hospitals getting publicity so I know which ones to avoid. But legally, MedStar is well within its rights to exercise a degree of control over how personnel make the hospital look in public. Yes, you have a right to champion abortion on any TV station that’ll have you, but that doesn’t mean your bosses are obligated to ignore how doing so hurts their image.

Employers do this sort of thing all the time. As a freelance political commentator, it’s the sort of thing I’ve always been sure to bring up in job interviews, accepting it when would-be employers set ground rules I found workable and even turning down a job or two I felt would have silenced me too much. They had a right to make it a condition of employment, and I had a right to accept or decline accordingly—just as Horvath-Cosper does.

Like the Trace Adkins song says: “Son, the First Amendment protects you from the government. Not from me.”

Granted, federal funding can often complicate such matters with rights and obligations above and beyond those in the Constitution. But again, because the Church Amendment’s language does not contain a definition of discrimination nearly broad enough to get Horvath-Cosper what she wants, common sense and the Constitution’s original understanding of rights should prevail.

Considering the pro-abortion movement has no respect for the right to life or freedom of conscience, it’s only natural they would have a hard time grasping and applying other rights such as free speech.

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