A dozen New Jersey nurses are suing the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey for the right to refuse care for women seeking abortion.
Normally the staff could choose not to participate in abortion related procedures, but since October the University Hospital required it of them.
“We were suddenly confronted with a choice between our faith and our jobs,” University Hospital nurse Fe Esperanza-Racpan Vinoya said to Religion News Service. “They said very clearly if we did not assist, we would face termination.”
The 12 nurses filed the lawsuit against the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey claiming that it was in violation of federal and state laws when they mandated nurses to help with abortion patients before and after their procedure in September.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau there were more than 50,000 abortions in New Jersey in 2008.
It is unclear how many abortions the 12 nurses were asked to assist with.
It’s been an abrupt transition for the staff so far since they’ve been accustomed to the formal exemption of participating in such pre- and post-patient abortion treatment.
“No health professional should be forced to choose between assisting abortion or being penalized at work,”one of the nurses Beryl Otieno-Negoje said to the Catholic News Agency. “I’m a nurse so I can help people, not help kill, and it just doesn’t seem right to me.”
However the University Hospital countered by issuing a statement that “no nurse is compelled to have direct involvement in, and/or attendance in the room at the time of, a procedure to which she or he objects based on his/her cultural values, ethics and/or religious beliefs.”
The statement said that “the university is in full compliance with all applicable state and federal laws and is confident its position will be vindicated when the court gives this matter a full hearing.”
The attorney representing the nurses, Matt Bowman, reported an e-mail he received from the legal representative of the hospital saying that “no laws had been broken, because the nurses are required to care for abortion patients only before and after the procedure,” according to the Washington Post.
On Nov. 3, Judge Jose L. Linares issued a temporary restraining order that would prevent the hospital from mandating said participation until a hearing of the case on Dec. 5.
In spite of the court order nurses have reported that “the hospital is continuing to pressure them to perform abortion related services," according to LifeSiteNews.