A hospital told a doctor in Washington D.C. to stay silent after she made comments defending the rights of women seeking safe abortions. She refused and has now filed a civil rights complaint against the hospital.
Diane Horvath-Cosper, an abortion provider completing a two-year fellowship at MedStar Hospital Center, became an outspoken guardian for women last November after a man walked into a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado and shot three people dead.
"I want women to be able to access abortion in a safe, legal, compassionate environment," Horvath-Cosper told MSNBC following the shooting. "So no, I'm not deterred.” She has previously written about the dangers of being an abortion provider.
Just a week after her comments to MSNBC, Horvath-Cosper was told she could no longer speak to media advocating for abortion. The hospital did "not want to put a K-Mart blue light special on the fact that we provide abortions at MedStar," Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Gregory Argyros said, according to the complaint filed Monday.
Silencing Horvath-Cosper was a security decision implemented out of fear that another fringe abortion opponent might target the hospital in a shooting, the complaint says.
But Horvath-Cosper argues that the hospital is violating the "Church amendment," which bans federally funded health care providers from discriminating based on moral convictions about abortion. While the amendment is most associated with medical professionals who object to abortions for religious or moral reasons, it applies to the other side of the coin as well, The New York Times points out.
“If she can’t speak out about abortion the way other doctors at the hospital do about what they work on, she is being treated differently and that is discrimination,” Gretchen Borchelt with the National Women's Law Center told the publication.
“The dialogue is dominated by those who have demonized this totally normal part of health care,” Horvath-Cosper told The Times. "I don’t think the way to deal with bullies is to cower and pull back."