Nursing Student Fights School Policy Requiring Abortion Pledge

A nursing student has partnered with a Christian legal defense group in filing a complaint against a Nashville, Tenn., university policy that requires participation in abortion procedures in order to enter its nurse residency program.

Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed the complaint Tuesday against Vanderbilt University with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

A fourth-year nursing student, whose name was not revealed, is currently at another university but wishes to apply to Vanderbilt's nurse residency program. The female student, however, is unable to do so because the admission forms require her to promise to participate in abortions.

"Christians and other pro-life members of the medical community shouldn't be forced to participate in abortions to pursue their profession," said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman

According to Vanderbilt's nurse residency application, chosen nurse residents must "care for women undergoing termination of pregnancy. Procedures performed in the Labor and Delivery unit include … terminations of pregnancy …."

The application encourages those who do not wish to terminate a pregnancy to apply to another program.

"If you feel you cannot provide care to women during this type of event, we encourage you to apply to a different track of the Nurse Residency Program to explore opportunities that may best fit your skills and career goals," the form reads.

Together, ADF and the student have completed a Civil Rights Discrimination Complaint citing religious grounds.

Law enacted during President George W. Bush's tenure allows medical personnel to refuse to perform a procedure on grounds of moral conscience.

"Federal law protects them from being required to kill the helpless," said Bowman.

ADF is currently litigating several cases involving Christians required to act against their conscience.

These cases include a nurse forced to assist in an abortion procedure at New York's Mt. Sinai Hospital, a student rejected from Eastern Michigan University's counseling program because she would not agree to affirm homosexual behavior as morally acceptable, and a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counselor fired because she would not provide counseling that would directly affirm or promote behavior contrary to her religious beliefs.

Bowman contends that the law clearly states that recipients of taxpayer dollars cannot require health care workers to act outside of their moral conscience.

Despite their efforts against the university, the unnamed student still hopes to apply to the program.

In an accompanying letter, the defense group stated that the student "can and is prepared to submit all that the application requires and to fulfill all of the program's requirements, except only that she has a religious objection to participating in abortions.

The deadline for Vanderbilt's nurse residency applications is January 28. The firm is looking for HHS to respond promptly to the complaint.

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