A dozen nurses have filed a lawsuit against a hospital run by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey over a plan that would coerce them to help with abortions, and they want an injunction right away as the hospital has scheduled them to be in the operating rooms as early as Friday.
And the complaint asks that the hospital be told to return some $60 million to the federal government, too.
Federal law prohibits hospitals that receive certain types of federal funds from forcing workers to help with abortions, according to the case brought by the Alliance Defense Fund.
Further, New Jersey law states, “No person shall be required to perform or assist in the performance of an abortion or sterilization.”
“Pro-life nurses shouldn’t be forced to assist in abortions against their beliefs,” said Matt Bowman, legal counsel for the organization. “No [fewer] 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,” he said.
The ADF documented that it was in September when the hospital began a policy change and informed staff members of the Same Day Surgery Unit that they would have to help with abortions. It offered termination from their jobs as the alternative.
One nurse objected to helping with abortions on the grounds of her religious beliefs, but a supervisor responded that the hospital has “no regard for religious beliefs” like those.
The nurses began their training on Oct. 14, which involved assisting surgical abortions.
But as they believe that the process is “an act of violence against innocent human life,” as the U.S. Supreme Court opined, they continued to resist.
The ADF said nurse Lorna Jose-Mendoze is scheduled to assist with abortions starting Friday, even though it violates her religious beliefs.
If the court fails to issue an order that stops the training session until the legal fight is resolved, 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 report said.
The case also raises the issue that the hospital may need to return part of the federal funding it has gotten – in light of the violation of federal law.
The case, being handled locally by ADF attorney Demetrios K. Stratis, is on behalf of Sharon L. Danquah, Beryl Otieno-Ngoje, Jacqueline DeSeo, Marites Linaac, Milagros Mananquil, Julita T. Ching, Cristina Abad, Lorna Jose-Mendoza, Virna Balasa, Ossie Taylor, Ronette Habaradas and Fe Esperanza R. Vinoya.
It names the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s board of trustees, its members, acting hospital president James Gonzalez and Suzanne Atkin, chief medical officer there, and others.
“UMDNJ’s coercion of the nurses is a blatant violation of federal and state law,
which explicitly prohibit UMDNJ from penalizing employees including plaintiffs because they object to assisting abortions,” the lawsuit explains.
“The nurses ask the court to declare their rights under law and enjoin UMDNJ
from continuing to mandate that they or similarly situated employees assist in abortions.
UMDNJ’s federal tax funding is also conditioned on UMDNJ not discriminating against
employees’ civil rights when they object to assisting abortions, the nurses also seek an order
requiring UMDNJ to disgorge the nearly $60 million in federal health funding that it received in
2011, and an order requiring that UMDNJ be disqualified from receiving additional federal
health funding unless and until it demonstrates compliance by ceasing its illegal coercion to assist abortions,” said the complaint.
“Since implementation of defendants’ policy began in October 2011, defendants
have already forced several of the nurses to undergo training to assist abortions by threatening them with termination if they did not assist,” the case explains. “In particular, defendants’ assignment of Ms. Danquah to train for abortions
occurred without advance warning or notice to her. She was first informed when she arrived for
her regular morning shift on October 28, 2011.”