United States District Judge Jose Linares issued a temporary restraining order exempting University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Hospital in Newark nurses from participating in abortions.
Sixteen nurses requested an injunction earlier this week, complaining they were threatened with dismissal if they refused to attend and assist in pregnancy terminations
In court filings, the plaintiffs said a recently promoted nurse manager last month insisted her staff be trained in assisting abortions and be ready to fill the role, if necessary.
“UMDNJ’s coercion of the nurses is a blatant violation of federal and state law, which explicitly prohibit UMDNJ from penalizing employees including plaintiffs, because they object to assisting abortions,” said the complaint.
The temporary restraining order prohibiting UMDNJ from requiring the plaintiffs to undergo any training, procedures or performances relating to abortions and from firing or demoting the nurses or changing their positions.
Two of the 16 nurses allege they trained for the procedures, under duress, and observed abortions, before the restraining order took effect. They also claimed to suffer emotional distress, and their attorney is seeking unspecified damages.
UMDNJ released a statement and said nurses are not compelled to be involved, or present, at any procedure to which they object.
"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," said the statement.
The Alliance Defense Fund filed a lawsuit on behalf of 12 nurses who work for the federally funded facility.
“The hospital passed a policy and put one of the nurses who did abortions in a supervisory position and started forcing nurses to assist in abortions out of the blue,” said legal counsel Matt Bowman. “It’s in complete violation of federal and state law – that says you can’t force people to assist abortions.”
“The hospital told the nurses they have no regard for their religious beliefs,” he said. “They were going to be assigned to these abortions or they would be terminated.”