New Jersey nurses allege religious discrimination over abortion

Twelve New Jersey nurses have charged a hospital with religious discrimination after it announced it would introduce a policy that would require them to help patients before and after abortions. In a lawsuit filed at the end of October, the nurses charge that the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey breached state and federal law with its new abortion policy. This removed an exemption on moral or religious grounds.

“I’m a nurse so I can help people, not help kill, and it just doesn’t seem right to me,” said Beryl Otieno-Negoje, one of the nurses. “No health professional should be forced to choose between assisting abortion or being penalized at work.”

The University Hospital has responded 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 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 statement said.

“These are health-care professionals who work at a publicly funded hospital saying that they do not want to do the job they were hired to do, including caring for a woman before or after surgery,” Jennifer Dalven of the American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project told the Washington Post. “People have a right to their beliefs, but that shouldn’t give them the right to discriminate against patients who need medical care.”

On November 3, US District Court Judge Jose L. Linares granted a temporary restraining order that barred the hospital from requiring nurses to undergo training for care of abortion patients, pending a hearing on the case on December 5 which involves 12 of the 16 nurses employed at the same-day surgery unit. ~ Washington Post, Nov 28

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