At the end of October, 12 nurses at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey outpatient surgery ward filed suit against the hospital claiming that the hospital administration is attempting to force them to assist in abortion procedures and that assisting would violate their religious beliefs. The state of New Jersey, along with federal regulations, allows for nurses and doctors to refuse to participate in abortions and sterilizations if violates their religious conscious. Okay, I think the concept of a religious exemption is unfair to the patient but ok since it is currently the existing law then these nurses can legally refuse to participate in an abortion procedure. The nurses’ say they were told by the administrators at UMDNJ that they must either begin to assist with abortion procedures or risk losing their jobs. They feel this is unfair so they sued.
According to UMDJ this is not at all what happened. The hospital says they allow for exemptions for religious, moral and ethical reasons and did not force any of the nurses to participate in an abortion procedure. The nurses were expected to provide pre- and post- operative care to all patients, regardless of the procedure they were there to get. So what exactly is pre- and post-operative care? Well from personal experience it is getting the patient water or an extra blanket. Maybe it includes getting someone pain killers or handing them their prescription; nothing that causes an abortion or contributes directly to the procedure. The lawyer for the nurses is quoted as saying “Because the nurses are compassionate, are healers and care deeply for every human life regardless of age and condition of dependency, they are punished…” They are so compassionate that they can’t get a shivering woman a blanket? Really?
Officials at UMDNJ say they even offered to transfer the nurses in an attempt to accommodate their objections so I can help but wonder what they really want. If all they want is to not help with abortions well… they aren’t. If they want to not be around abortion patients at all then they could have taken the opportunity to transfer when it was offered. I’m left to conclude that they must want the abortion patients to know they don’t approve of their choices. They want the ability to make a woman feel embarrassed by her decision.
Or maybe their motives are less cynical than that. Maybe they just want to hospital to stop offering abortions because it wouldn’t be cost effective to continue. According to the Washington Post it would cost the hospital an additional $280,000 to the annual budget if the nurses were allowed to refuse pre- and post- operative care to abortion patients and according to this report the lawsuit also asks that millions of dollars of federal funding be withheld from the hospital because it is violating federal regulations regarding conscious objections.
Or maybe this is all merely just an opportunity to bring more attention to the pro-life cause. If it’s true that these nurses genuine want to provide “heal and healing” care to their patients it seems the reasons must be closer to the latter then my first thought and I hope that is the case here. Obviously this is still a “he said, she said” type scenario and its possible all the information reported so far is inaccurate; but still if you are a nurse who doesn’t like abortion and doesn’t want to be around it; why wouldn’t you take the option to work somewhere that doesn’t perform abortions- like Catholic Hospitals?