- (Photo: Durell Hicks)
A federal court has reached an agreement with 12 nurses in Newark, N.J., on Thursday, giving them the right to choose not to participate in abortions while keeping their jobs, in what many are hailing as a big victory for religious rights.
The nurses filed a lawsuit on Oct. 31 against their employer, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, because the hospital had made amendments to a rule which now requires medical staff to assist with abortions regardless of their moral or religious objections, The Christian Post has previously reported.
Fe Esperanza-Racpan Vinoya, one of the nurses represented in the lawsuit, has said according to the Religion News Service that they were made to choose between their faith and their jobs. “They said very clearly if we did not assist, we would face termination,” the nurse complained.
The lawsuit that the 12 nurses filed claimed that it was against federal and state laws to require nurses to assist in any way in abortions. The hospital rejected the accusation by explaining that the nurses only needed to provide patient care before and after the procedure.
Yesterday’s decision by U.S. District Judge Jose Linares in Newark federal court, however, lifts the requirement from the nurses, and will offer them protection from being fired for their religious stance against abortion. They will only need to help out in a life-threatening emergency if no other staff, who do not object to abortions, are available.
Both Racpan Vinoya and attorney Matt Bowman from the Alliance Defense Fund, a coalition of Christian lawyers and organizations that represented the nurses, expressed their satisfaction with the agreement. The nurse, however, shared that she is still concerned the hospital may find other ways to discriminate against her and her colleagues for filing the lawsuit.
"I'm still scared about the part of them having four nurses brought in and we might become the surpluses," she said, noting the new nurses hired by the hospital who do not object to the procedure, and revealed she fears that the hospital may cut the hours of the anti-abortion nurses or have them transferred. Although the judge said the nurses would be protected against discrimination, he said he could not preside on how the hospital staffs its shifts.
The hospital has also been reported to be content with the decision – one of the attorneys who represented the institution, Edward Deutsch, remarked: "I think it's an appropriate resolution, and the hospital has been very accommodating."