Federal law prohibits hospitals that receive federal funds from forcing employees to take part in abortions. In addition, New Jersey law states, "No person shall be required to perform or assist in the performance of an abortion or sterilization."
Nonetheless, 12 nurses at the hospital run by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) were threatened with dismissal for objecting to participating in abortion procedures. According to LifeSiteNews, the hospital receives approximately $60 million annually from the federal government.
In September, nurses who work in the Same Day Surgery Unit at UMDNJ were told that they must assist in abortions or face termination. One nurse who objected was reportedly told by a supervisor that the hospital has "no regard for religious beliefs" when it comes to such cases. The Christian Post reported that the hospital's policy in the past was to allow staff members to opt out of abortion procedures.
The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) took on the case of the 12 UMDNJ nurses and yesterday had reason to celebrate at least a preliminary victory. A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the hospital from forcing the nurses to participate in abortions. Another hearing is scheduled for later this month.
ADF legal counsel Matt Bowman said that the hospital's directive was "flatly illegal." The Christian Post also reports that the ADF is handling a similar case involving Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
This seems like a straightforward case of a hospital breaking the law, and perhaps there will be a happy ending. I'm grateful the ADF is on the case, and for the temporary restraining order. But two things concern me. First, I worry about other nurses facing the same situation at hospitals across the country and being afraid to seek out organizations like the ADF. Second, I wonder if hospitals will continue to push these boundaries in the hope that someday pro-life nurses won't have a choice.