A legal defense alliance has gone back to court seeking an emergency order against a New Jersey hospital after officials there threatened pro-life nurses with duty, schedule and assignment changes because of their objection to abortion – even though a court previously ordered officials not to do that.
Judge Jose Linares said in his earlier order that the hospital could not require “the named plaintiffs from undergoing any training, procedures or performances relating to abortions pending the court’s determination on the merits.”
Further, he ordered that the hospital could not discriminate “in the employment, promotion, or termination of employment of, or in the extension of staff or other privileges to the named plaintiffs based on any of the plaintiffs’ refusal to undergo training, procedures or performances relating to abortions.”
But according to a report from the Alliance Defense Fund, the hospital – after the judge’s order – told nurses who objected to being ordered to participate in abortions that among the “accommodations” that could be arranged would be “changes in duties, changes in scheduling, and/or transfer to another nursing position that does not involve duties that are objectionable.”
The letters noted the nurses’ objections to “performing certain of your current job duties.”
“The university again invites you to discuss with us potential reasonable accommodations of your objections,” the letter said.
The letter was signed by Theresa Rejrat, vice president of patient care services.
But the “duties” to which Rejrat referred were newly added requirements for nurses to participate in abortions whether they wanted to or not – and even though that violated both state and federal requirements, the ADF said.
The ADF said it filed a motion for an emergency court order against the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey after the organization tried to force nurses into meetings “that would impose discriminatory job ‘transfer’ and other ‘changes’ to their employment solely because of their objections to helping with abortions.”
“These pro-life nurses shouldn’t be bullied into employment discrimination that is forbidden both by federal law and a court order,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “The hospital is threatening to impose discriminatory transfers or changes in the employment conditions for these nurses because of their religious and moral objections to abortion. Such discrimination against pro-life nurses violates state and federal law, the court’s order in this case, and even the hospital’s own public statements saying that no nurse must assist in procedures to which they object.”
Alan Sears, an executive with the Alliance Defense Fund, said, “Cases like this are increasingly common in the U.S., as the battle over abortion spurs attacks on rights of individual conscience.”
The issue also got the attention of U.S. Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.M., just yesterday.
“We’re talking about coercion here,” he told Fox News & Commentary. “This is an outrage – to coerce nurses or any health care professional to be involved either pre-op or during the commission of an abortion is against federal and state law.”
The ADF said both state and federal rules prohibit what the hospital is trying to do – coerce nurses into helping with abortions.
“Federal law, for instance, prohibits hospitals that receive certain federal funds – UMDNJ receives approximately $60 million such funds annually – from forcing employees to assist with abortions,” Sears noted. “And New Jersey law specifically states that ‘No person shall be required to perform or assist in the performance of an abortion or sterilization.'”
ADF explained that the fight is over a decision by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey to require nurses in the Same Day Surgery Unit to be trained in and assist in abortions – no matter their religious beliefs.
The ADF said the hospital has threatened the nurses with termination if they refuse, even though they consider abortion, as the U.S. Supreme Court wrote, “an act of violence against innocent human life.”
“No [fewer] than 12 nurses have encountered threats to their jobs at this hospital ever since [this] policy change,” said ADF legal counsel Matt Bowman. “That is flatly illegal.”
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 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.