Categories: Conscience Laws

Lawyer for Pro-Life New Jersey nurses challenges idea that accommodations have been made to meet their objections to participating in abortions

By Dave Andrusko

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith

One thing you need to remember: when pro-life health personnel are discriminated against, you will first be told it ain’t so and then told it’s been remedied even though there was nothing wrong in the first place.

I apologize for missing the latest twist in the story of the twelve pro-life New Jersey nurses which took place last Friday. First, a couple of words of background.

For reasons the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey chooses not to reveal, 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.

Assisted by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), the nurses took the hospital to court where on November 3, and a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order stopping all training, procedures and performances related to abortions for the suing nurses.

UMDNJ  adamantly insisted it is in violation of no state or federal law, when it clearly is. It defended this conclusion by arguing that it is demanding only that nurses “perform peripheral duties for abortion patients”—such as “logging information, drawing blood,” etc.

In an editorial supporting the nurses, the New Jersey Star-Ledger observed,

“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.”

But it turns out that last Friday—at the same time UMDNJ is insisting “Its position will be vindicated when the court gives this matter a full hearing” because “The university is in full compliance with all applicable state and federal laws”–it issued a statement saying it would “hire additional staff to help perform abortions,” according to a story that ran in the Star-Ledger.

This hospital statement “indicates a policy shift from the university’s initial stance,” according to David Giambusso. True? Interestingly, when his story appeared elsewhere, a paragraph was conveniently omitted challenging that optimistic conclusion.

“’The hospital filed a brief last week asking the court’s permission to continue bullying nurses into participating in elective abortion cases,” [ADF] lawyer Matt Bowman said in an e-mail. “Only by guaranteeing the court and the nurses that it has reversed its position would it prove that UMDNJ might finally be interested in following the law. Until then, ADF will continue to fight the illegal discrimination against these pro-life nurses.”

I’ve been unable to get a hold of Mr. Bowman to find out exactly what was in the hospital’s  brief. Stay tuned.

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