Court temporarily stops NJ hospital from forcing nurses to participate in abortions

ADF represents nurses in lawsuit against Univ. of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ
Thursday, November 03, 2011

ADF attorney sound bite:  Matt Bowman

NEWARK, N.J. — A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order Thursday that prohibits a New Jersey hospital from forcing any of 12 nurses that sued the facility to participate in training or services related to abortions. The order, which the hospital agreed to, is in effect until the court decides whether to issue any additional order at a Nov. 18 hearing.

The 12 nurses, represented by Alliance Defense Fund attorneys, filed suit Monday against the hospital run by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Federal and state law both protect the nurses from being required to participate in medical activities related to abortions. Prior to the court order, two of the nurses had been scheduled to participate this Friday in training that would include surgical abortions.

“Pro-life nurses shouldn’t be forced to assist or train in services related to abortions. Federal and state law both prohibit this,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “These 12 nurses have encountered threats to their jobs at this hospital ever since a policy change required them to participate in the abortion cases regardless of their religious and moral objections. The court’s order prevents that until the Nov. 18 hearing, but it is disturbing that the hospital may fight to continue violating laws that clearly protect conscience rights.”

The court order states that hospital officials “are restrained from requiring the named Plaintiffs from undergoing any training, procedures or performances relating to abortions pending the Court’s determination on the merits regarding the Plaintiffs’ Application for a Preliminary Injunction.” The order also prohibits any acts of employment discrimination against the nurses until that matter is resolved.

Federal law prohibits hospitals that receive certain federal funds from forcing employees to participate in abortions. UMDNJ receives approximately $60 million in federal health 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.” The lawsuit requests that the hospital be ordered to obey these laws and to return part of the federal taxpayer money it has received in light of its violation of federal conscience laws.

In September, UMDNJ began telling Same Day Surgery Unit nurses that they must assist abortion cases. The hospital imposed the new policy in October and repeatedly threatened that they must assist abortions or be terminated. When one nurse objected to assisting abortion cases due to her religious beliefs, a supervisor responded that UMDNJ has “no regard for religious beliefs” of nurses who object to participating.

Demetrios K. Stratis, one of nearly 2,100 attorneys in the ADF alliance is local counsel in the case, Danquah v. University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Stratis is with the firm Ruta, Soulios & Stratis, LLP.
  •  Pronunciation guide: Bowman (BOH’-min)
 ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.