Twelve nurses employed by a hospital run by the University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey (UMDNJ) filed suit on Monday against the hospital for requiring them to either participate in abortions or lose their jobs.
According to the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a public interest law firm which is representing the nurses, both federal and state laws protect them from being forced to participate in any procedure that violates their religious beliefs.
“Pro-life nurses shouldn’t be forced to assist in abortions against their beliefs,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “No less than 12 nurses have encountered threats to their jobs at this hospital ever since a policy change required them to participate in the abortions regardless of their religious objections. That is flatly illegal.”
Federal law prohibits hospitals that receive certain federal funds from forcing employees to participate in abortions. UMDNJ receives approximately $60 million in federal funds annually. In addition, New Jersey law states, “No person shall be required to perform or assist in the performance of an abortion or sterilization.”
In September, UMDNJ initiated a policy change and began telling Same Day Surgery Unit nurses that they must assist abortions. The hospital imposed the policy on the nurses in October and repeatedly threatened that they must assist abortions or be terminated.
When one nurse objected to assisting abortions on the grounds of her religious beliefs, a supervisor responded that UMDNJ has “no regard for religious beliefs” of nurses who object to participating in abortions.
The hospital scheduled the nurses to begin training to assist abortions on Oct. 14. The training involves actually assisting surgical abortions, which the nurses believe is, in the words of the U.S. Supreme Court, “an act of violence against innocent human life.”
If the court does not issue an order requested by ADF attorneys that stops the training sessions while the lawsuit moves forward, the nurses and their colleagues will continue to be scheduled one by one to undergo the training and then to assist abortions on a regular basis. The lawsuit also requests that the hospital be ordered to return part of the federal taxpayer money it has received in light of its violation of federal law.
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Photo is of Lorna Jose Mendoza, one of the nurses involved in the suit.