Court: New Jersey nurses don’t have to assist with abortions

posted at 4:45 pm on December 23, 2011 by Tina Korbe

A federal court upheld the religious liberty of the 12 New Jersey hospital nurses who had been instructed to assist with abortions or potentially lose their jobs. LifeNews.com reports:

Under an agreement UMDNJ agreed to the nurses can remain in their current positions and not be pressured to assist in any part of an abortion procedure. The nurses are only required to help if a life-threatening emergency materializes with the mother involved in the abortion and no other non-objecting staff are available to assist and only until such a time as other can be called up on to relive them.

Fe Esperanza Racpan Vinoya, one of the plaintiffs in the case, told AP she was delighted by the decision but nurse Racpan Vinoya said she was still concerned the hospital would retaliate against her by transferring her or cutting hours.

“I’m still scared about the part of them having four nurses brought in and we might become the surpluses,” Racpan Vinoya said.

A spokesperson for the ACLU predictably expressed outrage that the court would allow the nurses to “discriminate” against patients who want to abort and suggested that the 12 pro-life nurses wanted to deny care to patients in need of it.

But as New Jersey Republican Rep. Chris Smith put it, “UMDNJ argues that sometimes so-called safe, elective abortions put women in life-threatening situations.  When an abortion threatens to take the life of both the baby and the mom, the pro-life nurses have always been willing to step in, if needed, to preserve the life of the mother until the emergency code team arrives.”

Precisely. To suggest otherwise is to be just as disingenuous as Nancy Pelosi when she suggested that Republicans “want” women to “die on the floor.”

This is less a question of abortion rights or wrongs as it is a question of religious liberty and conscience rights. It’s encouraging to see a federal court recognize that and take a stand for religious freedom.


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Amazing.

vegconservative on December 23, 2011 at 4:47 PM

Finally some good news.

Daemonocracy on December 23, 2011 at 4:51 PM

It appears the attys for the nurses filed a motion requesting a preliminary injunction and they and the hospital reached an agreement. However, the case is far from over. Again, the hospital says it did not pressure anyone and the nurses say they did.

Blake on December 23, 2011 at 4:54 PM

Oh! those fearmongering Republicans who want women to die on the floor.

arik1969 on December 23, 2011 at 5:00 PM

So in other words it is fine for the ACLU to discriminate against the nurses and their freedom to choose if they want to assist in an elective abortion. It is rhetorical. I know the answer. Nurses dedicate their lives to saving life, not ending it. This just makes me sick and angry. Good for the court but it should never have been an issue in the first place.

FLconservative on December 23, 2011 at 5:00 PM

What is the ACLU angry about? I thought that women, including nurses; having the right to choose was a good thing.

Kenz on December 23, 2011 at 5:00 PM

Again, the hospital says it did not pressure anyone and the nurses say they did.

Blake on December 23, 2011 at 4:54 PM

Compulsory pressure can take many forms. It’s certainly not over.

God Bless nurses.

Capitalist Hog on December 23, 2011 at 5:07 PM

and if the mother life was in danger? could they refuse?

nathor on December 23, 2011 at 5:15 PM

A win for the REAL reason the First Amendment is the first amendment.

jukin3 on December 23, 2011 at 5:23 PM

The nurses are only required to help if a life-threatening emergency materializes with the mother involved in the abortion and no other non-objecting staff are available to assist and only until such a time as other can be called up on to relive them.

Nathor, from Tina’s block quote. This is about elective abortions.

FLconservative on December 23, 2011 at 5:24 PM

What other tasks are nurses in New Jersey allowed to refuse to do if they claim “conscience clause” exemptions? I don’t see why it should stop at abortions. In fact, nurses shouldn’t even have job responsibilities, but merely job suggestions that they can do if they feel that it won’t violate their moral or religious beliefs.

theodore on December 23, 2011 at 5:24 PM

Sadly, comments are closed on this Washington Post article:

Why do nurses get to refuse to take care of women before or after they had an abortion but if a murderer is in the hospital because he was shot while killing a policeman that same nurse could not refuse to care for him? Should nurses or doctors who object to war be allowed to refuse treatment to soldiers? Do we want nurses and doctors to be able to refuse to care for people who are ill because they did something that the nurse found to be morally objectionable? As far as I am concerned a healthcare providers moral objection should end where a patient’s body begins.

Perhaps because, in the case of the man who murdered a policeman, the nurses are uniquely concerned with saving a life — not in participating in the crime. In the case of a soldier, the nurse has the right to not join the military, thus rendering moot any obligation to care for soldiers. In the case of the abortion, the nurse is essential to the commission of the crime — a procedure said nurse may find morally repugnant.

That is the difference the above poster misses.

That said, the nurses have already indicated that, if the mother’s life were placed into critical danger as a result of the abortion, they would assist in stabilizing her. They just won’t do routine pre-op or post-op tasks.

unclesmrgol on December 23, 2011 at 5:26 PM

I find it fascinating that the ACLU has now gotten to the point of Cafe Constitutionalism that they now express a Derived Right not specifically mentioned in the Constitution is of greater importance than a Right Specifically Enumerated in the First Amendment of the constitution.

But then they’ve had little use for the 2nd 9th and 10th amendments as well.

jaydee_007 on December 23, 2011 at 5:28 PM

unclesmrgol,

One might also point out, that Abortions are for the most part an elective procedure which is scheduled in advance.

And while some abortions may actually be Walk Up in nature I’d bet that less than 1 in one million abortions are ever performed as Emergencies. (if that many)

jaydee_007 on December 23, 2011 at 5:34 PM

and if the mother life was in danger? could they refuse?

nathor on December 23, 2011 at 5:15 PM

And how many abortions were performed because the mother was gone to die.

RickB on December 23, 2011 at 5:40 PM

jaydee_007 on December 23, 2011 at 5:28 PM

Right you are jaydee. Even the pro-choice should recognize that religious freedom as guaranteed by the constitution is at stake here. Women may (or may not) have a right to chose to have an abortion, but they have no right to make me do it for them by costing me my job if I decline. This should have been an easy decision for the court.

KW64 on December 23, 2011 at 5:40 PM

What a disgusting practice..

blatantblue on December 23, 2011 at 5:41 PM

Thank God the nurses won their case. I have been worried about our government coercing people into participating in evil, so it’s wonderful to see some pushback.

OperaNerd1986 on December 23, 2011 at 5:44 PM

Liberal logic:

Employers must be forced to keep employees who take leave for pregnancy, but also have the right to force employees to end pregnancies even if the employee believes it is murder.

Whole lotta sense right there…

MPC on December 23, 2011 at 5:44 PM

This sets a bad precedent.

nottakingsides on December 23, 2011 at 5:45 PM

In the case of the abortion, the nurse is essential to the commission of the crime — a procedure said nurse may find morally repugnant.

A nurse may also find it morally repugnant to engage in the tasks that the person you’re quoting described. If this law is strictly concerned with preventing nurses from having to do something they feel is wrong, then there’s absolutely no valid reason for it to stop at abortion.

theodore on December 23, 2011 at 5:48 PM

What other tasks are nurses in New Jersey allowed to refuse to do if they claim “conscience clause” exemptions?…

theodore on December 23, 2011 at 5:24 PM

teddy, you’re going to have to do better than that stupid vapid oh-so-concerned troll of a question. This is about abortion and nothing else. Raising a silly strawman question is the tactic of an 8 year old.

tds on December 23, 2011 at 5:51 PM

But do soldiers who decide they are in an immoral war get to walk off the battlefield because it offends their religious beliefs? Remember that in the good old days there was something called the “just war” theory, which was an important moral justification for war participation. I’m not arguing with the outcome here, but just wondering where one draws the line. I agree with nottakingsides that this may set a bad precedent.

strongerthandirt on December 23, 2011 at 5:52 PM

The holy sacrament of child sacrifice is so important to the pagan of old and of today.

tom daschle concerned on December 23, 2011 at 5:58 PM

strongerthandirt on December 23, 2011 at 5:52 PM

Apples and oranges.

Uniform Code of Military Justice.

hawkdriver on December 23, 2011 at 6:01 PM

A spokesperson for the ACLU predictably expressed outrage that the court would allow the nurses to “discriminate” against patients who want to abort and suggested that the 12 pro-life nurses wanted to deny care to patients in need of it.

But its okay for the hospital to DISCRIMINATE against the nurses, right?

Must be more of that liberal “nuance” that I’m missing.

GarandFan on December 23, 2011 at 6:02 PM

GarandFan on December 23, 2011 at 6:02 PM

Pretty much.. Apparently religious protection started being obsolete about the time that Americans started to believe that they could find the seperation of church and state in the Constitution./

melle1228 on December 23, 2011 at 6:06 PM

This is about abortion and nothing else. Raising a silly strawman question is the tactic of an 8 year old.

tds on December 23, 2011 at 5:51 PM

You certainly are passionate in your ignorance.

Tina put it best:

This is less a question of abortion rights or wrongs as it is a question of religious liberty and conscience rights. It’s encouraging to see a federal court recognize that and take a stand for religious freedom.

tds, maybe you should follow what is going on in Europe with the NHS and such. Especially Muslims in the medical field that love to take advantage of religious liberty rights and such (even opposing hygiene rules). It is a total clusterfark.

And yes, even with Christians or whatever religion or reason or bias, it is an inevitable, unavoidable slippery slope that we should avoid at all costs.

Outlaw abortion period. If we can’t do that, we are screwed beyond help anyway.

But don’t allow the clusterfark of religious/conscious rights to lower the quality of care for everyone, and increase the costs, bureaucracies, legal issues, etc…

nottakingsides on December 23, 2011 at 6:08 PM

But don’t allow the clusterfark of religious/conscious rights to lower the quality of care for everyone, and increase the costs, bureaucracies, legal issues, etc…

Their argument was that most abortions were elective. One of the reasons the court found for them is they were not refusing to participate in life saving measures. I think if they had refused the life saving abortions; the court would have made a different decision.

That being said, abortion is a huge money maker, especially since most abortion providers want to be paid in cash. I am sure the hospital can afford to find a nurse that will want to work solely in this area. I think in this highly sensitive area; the hospital would want personnel who actually wanted to be there.

melle1228 on December 23, 2011 at 6:15 PM

But its okay for the hospital to DISCRIMINATE against the nurses, right?

Must be more of that liberal “nuance” that I’m missing.

GarandFan on December 23, 2011 at 6:02 PM

There is no discrimination here. Nurses are not being refused employment because they morally oppose abortion.

theodore on December 23, 2011 at 6:25 PM

And how many abortions were performed because the mother was gone to die.

RickB on December 23, 2011 at 5:40 PM

Red herring.

CW on December 23, 2011 at 6:39 PM

strongerthandirt on December 23, 2011 at 5:52 PM

Um…

…soldiers willingly sign up KNOWING that part of their job description is to kill people.

To feign surprise later is disingenuous at best.

Nurses train to SAVE lives. Yet, abortions require doctors and nurses to MURDER.

Despite some lame attempts here to paint this decision as troublesome, there really is no other typical nurse duty that compares. The only things that come close are assisted suicide, pulling the plug on terminal cases and assisting in executions. And I believe at least two of those things (assisted suicide & assisting in executions) are completely voluntary.

Religious_Zealot on December 23, 2011 at 6:50 PM

But don’t allow the clusterfark of religious/conscious rights to lower the quality of care for everyone, and increase the costs, bureaucracies, legal issues, etc…

nottakingsides on December 23, 2011 at 6:08 PM

I guess I’m still not convinced that abortions afford any kind of “care”…

…especially for the child!

Religious_Zealot on December 23, 2011 at 7:00 PM

AWRIGHT!

Another abortion thread, YIPEEEEE.

Ok prochoicers, I see you hiding there. It won’t do you any good.

May as well come out and “have-at-it.”

(is that too provocative?)

listens2glenn on December 23, 2011 at 7:11 PM

Sadly, comments are closed on this Washington Post article . . .
unclesmrgol on December 23, 2011 at 5:26 PM

They can’t take the “heat”, uncle.

Disappointing, but expected.

listens2glenn on December 23, 2011 at 7:18 PM

GOOD decision

limitedgovt on December 23, 2011 at 7:37 PM

If a nurse has a religious objection to participating in an abortion, it is because they believe that the act is intrinsically evil. This is not so with treating a wounded murderer or soldier. The murderer may repent and not murder again and the soldier is doing what soldiers are supposed to do, fight in battle. There is no evil in saving a life.

samharker on December 23, 2011 at 8:49 PM

As a person that supports individual liberty i think this is a great call. However, if it is a private hospital then the private company should be able high and fire whoever they want.

MoreLiberty on December 23, 2011 at 9:11 PM

As a person that supports individual liberty i think this is a great call. However, if it is a private hospital then the private company should be able high and fire whoever they want.

For any reason whatsoever, such as I don’t care for your race?

samharker on December 23, 2011 at 9:16 PM

A nurse may also find it morally repugnant to engage in the tasks that the person you’re quoting described. If this law is strictly concerned with preventing nurses from having to do something they feel is wrong, then there’s absolutely no valid reason for it to stop at abortion.

theodore on December 23, 2011 at 5:48 PM

The New Jersey law allows doctors, nurses, and pharmacists a right to refuse to provide health care services or advice, if saud provision interferes with their religious, moral and/or ethical convictions and beliefs. In addition, after refusing, the medical professional is not obligated to refer the customer to another professional who will do the requested service.

The right is very broad. Hence, a pharmacist is not obligated to provide contraceptives of any type, nor is he or she obligated to prescribe medications produced by methods which are, in the pharmacist’s mind, counter to their morality or ethos.

unclesmrgol on December 23, 2011 at 9:42 PM

I guess I’m still not convinced that abortions afford any kind of “care”…

…especially for the child!

Religious_Zealot on December 23, 2011 at 7:00 PM

I referred specifically to the slippery slope, and referenced NHS as an example. Do you need someone to spell this out for you still?

nottakingsides on December 23, 2011 at 9:44 PM

I think the free market would have handled this just fine.

blink on December 23, 2011 at 6:53 PM

This isn’t a free market. If you read the article, the hospital in question receives Federal dollars — $60M of them, according to the article, and as the article states, under both state and federal law the nurses are permitted a freedom of conscience exemption from doing work which conflicts with their moral principles.

When there is a personal “right” established to an elective abortion, and said “right” is established in law, then a legitimate push-back is to promulgate laws protecting people who don’t want to perform abortions. That’s the quid pro quo the liberals had to accede to in balancing the scales with respect to perceived individual rights.

unclesmrgol on December 23, 2011 at 9:50 PM

I referred specifically to the slippery slope, and referenced NHS as an example. Do you need someone to spell this out for you still?

nottakingsides on December 23, 2011 at 9:44 PM

What, exactly, is slippery about this non-existent slope?

Are there other types of “care” that result in the murder of an innocent child?

Because that’s the only “slope” that has any relevance here.

Religious_Zealot on December 23, 2011 at 10:33 PM

But do soldiers who decide they are in an immoral war get to walk off the battlefield because it offends their religious beliefs?

The short answer is yes. There is an approved lawful precedent for declaring yourself a conscious objector. However, It’s a bit difficult when the military is now a volunteer force…

Bunsin2 on December 23, 2011 at 10:49 PM

I’m in shock… Here? In New Jersey?… (looking up for pigs on the wing)
-

RalphyBoy on December 23, 2011 at 10:51 PM

But don’t allow the clusterfark of religious/conscious rights to lower the quality of care for everyone, and increase the costs, bureaucracies, legal issues, etc…

nottakingsides on December 23, 2011 at 6:08 PM

I think the 1st Amendment almost guarantees that religious considerations must color any law we pass. The Supreme Court has manufactured law which requires abortion to be freely available to any woman desiring one, but, in that making, has not defined a corresponding requirement that other private parties should provide one.

This is, of course, exactly like other rights which are indeed called out in the 1st Amendment — a right to freedom of speech — but no corresponding requirement that others listen, nor that Government should provide a megaphone — a right to freedom of the press — but no corresponding requirement that others read, nor that Government should provide a press.

No, it is up to the individual desiring to exercise their freedom of speech to procure an audience and a venue for speaking; it is up to the individual desiring to exercise their freedom of the press to procure a press and a readership. The only onus on Government is to not stand in the way of reasonable exercises of these rights.

Ditto for any putative abortion right — it must, by the very nature of a right, likewise be exercised between consenting adults. When one person must abrogate their rights as defined in the 1st Amendment for another person’s putative right which is nowhere mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, we have a situation which effectively turns said document completely upside down in terms of its meaning and its intent.

unclesmrgol on December 24, 2011 at 12:05 AM

Great news. Though it’s insane that it even got to this court.

BoxHead1 on December 24, 2011 at 12:36 AM

Dear Liberal Trolls;

I think that K-Mart has the Obligation, and all of the store employees should also be obligated to sell me a handgun.

And if K-Mart doesn’t sell handguns I should be able to sue them for violating my second ammendment Right to Keep and Bear arms.

Anyone who refuses to show me a firearm in their store should be subject to fines or termination. Owning a Gun is My Right. Therefore Others should be obligated to facilitate my Right!

jaydee_007 on December 24, 2011 at 12:53 AM

GOOD NEWS!!! A lot of great comments… this was my favorite:

find it fascinating that the ACLU has now gotten to the point of Cafe Constitutionalism that they now express a Derived Right not specifically mentioned in the Constitution is of greater importance than a Right Specifically Enumerated in the First Amendment of the constitution.

But then they’ve had little use for the 2nd 9th and 10th amendments as well.

jaydee_007 on December 23, 2011 at 5:28 PM

Nice analysis.

(Of course, as observed by other posters, this never should’ve got to the courts in the first place, but it’s nice that they actually did the right thing. Of course, even a blind squirell finds a nut every now and then…)

GuitarMark on December 24, 2011 at 2:25 AM

Gee, it’s nice that a judge can read the words of the first amendment to the US Constitution which clearly states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Our Government has been progressively prohibiting the free exercise of religion for years. This has to stop.

BBReggie on December 24, 2011 at 7:58 AM

Muslim refuse all kinds of stuff in healthcare and not one peep!

Jpalm on December 24, 2011 at 9:07 AM

I am blessed to have a wife and a daughter that are nurses. Neither would assist in an abortion unless the mother was dying. These are exceedingly rare situations with modern pre-natal care.

Many of us work for or have worked for employers that demand unethical and immoral actions. Most of us just quietly leave and find another job. Sometimes we are fired but at the end of the day your reputation and morals are worth way more than any job or money that arises from these actions.

it’s unfortunate that our politicians and judges have lost this message. It’s why the country is as divided as it is and the rush toward power and immoral oblivion seems to trump all else.

acyl72 on December 24, 2011 at 10:14 AM

“And how many abortions were performed because the mother was gone to die.”

BINGO!

Eph on December 24, 2011 at 10:19 AM

“Muslim refuse all kinds of stuff in healthcare and not one peep!”

Red Herring

/

Eph on December 24, 2011 at 10:19 AM

But its okay for the hospital to DISCRIMINATE against the nurses, right?

Must be more of that liberal “nuance” that I’m missing.

GarandFan on December 23, 2011 at 6:02 PM

There is no discrimination here. Nurses are not being refused employment because they morally oppose abortion.

theodore on December 23, 2011 at 6:25 PM

Here’s where you’re wrong, theo…the nurses are being told to either participate in the abortions or risk losing their jobs. That, my friend, is discrimination based on their moral/religious objection to abortion.

mom29js on December 24, 2011 at 10:46 AM

Number of ACLU members: 500,000

Population of the US: 325,000,000

Math: 0.15% of the population

And we care what they think because……?

NoPain on December 24, 2011 at 11:01 AM

Your Religion should be between you and who ever you pray too. I dont want to know and I dont care to know. You have the right to practice the Religion of your choice and I have the right to decline. Now when your religion infringes on my LEGAL rights then thats when I have a problem. If you morally disagree with an activity then dont choose a line of work where that action is required. Its really quite simple. Here in WA state we have pharmacist who dont want to hand out the Plan B bill. Where is the lines drawn?

What If I just wanted to start a religion like Joseph Smith and I was a policeman and in my religion it was morally wrong to assist a woman except for when no other non protesting male policeman was around. Now when I became a policeman I was aware that I took a pledge to assist people, but my own religion puts an * on that.

Its just silly.

Politricks on December 24, 2011 at 3:42 PM

Now when your religion infringes on my LEGAL rights then thats when I have a problem

Your legal right is to have an abortion-period. There is NO LEGAL right that says a provider has to provide it.

melle1228 on December 24, 2011 at 8:10 PM