Support from an Unlikely Source for New Jersey Nurses who Refuse to Participate in Abortions

By Dave Andrusko

Cong. Smith (NJ-04) speaks in support of a group of “nurses of conscience” at UMDNJ who have asserted their rights guaranteed by federal and state law.

Not often that pro-lifers get editorial support, so when the [New Jersey] Star-Ledger concludes “UMDNJ should not compel nurses to assist with abortions,” it’s worth a few minutes figuring out why they conclude that the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey is “looking for a loophole.”

As we’ve reported in this space several times, UMDNJ abruptly changed its policy from allowing nurses to honor their consciences and NOT participate in abortions to threatening them with the loss of their job if they didn’t. Twelve nurses took them to court.

When you have the law, you argue the law, as the nurses did. Federal and state law is crystal-clear. When you don’t, you try what the hospital is floating: to say they are compelling only that nurses “participate” –as oppose to “assist”–in abortions.

The Star-Ledger editorial today makes mincemeat of this distinction without a difference (

They point out that the hospital says it is demanding only that nurses “perform peripheral duties for abortion patients”—such as “logging information, drawing blood,” etc.

“In other words, UMDNJ believes it should be able to compel nurses and other health care professionals, against their moral beliefs, to perform duties leading all the way up to the actual abortion, then force those health care professionals to attend to patients immediately afterward — or lose their jobs.

“Narrowing the law to specify that nurses have the right to opt out of only the actual abortion procedure strains common sense.”

To put it politely.

The editorial tackles a question that to this point the hospital has given no answer: why the change from what the editorial calls the “liberal” policy that existed for decades until September: “ To accommodate objectors, UMDNJ had been using freelance, nonobjecting nurses and nonobjectors on its staff, it says.”

So, why the change? “UMDNJ isn’t commenting.” The editorial offers several plausible explanations.

“Maybe it’s a profitability or staffing issue. Maybe it’s an intramural squabble. Maybe the hospital wants these nurses to quit. It doesn’t matter.”

But the best part of a thoughtful editorial is the end, where they say what is obvious to everyone but the hospital and professional abortion apologists.

“An e-mail from UMDNJ to the nurses’ attorney says, ‘The pre- and post-operative care provided to these patients is of the same nature as that provided to patients who have undergone other surgical procedures.’

“Yes, but these patients aren’t undergoing ‘other surgical procedures.’ They’re undergoing an abortion — an emotionally and morally charged procedure. This isn’t a tonsillectomy.

“Objecting nurses shouldn’t be forced to participate — on any level.”

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