2015 Victories: Pediatrician Fired for Her Religious Beliefs Defended
This is the latest installment in a year-end series looking back at a few of the many victories by the ACLJ in 2015.
It’s a tremendous victory for the religious liberty of a doctor willing to stand up and defend life.
Dr. Doris Fernandes, a Christian pediatrician in Philadelphia, was fired after requesting a religious accommodation of her beliefs against dispensing abortion pills. Dr. Fernandes had worked for 35 years at a clinic serving economically vulnerable children and adolescents.
During those 35 years, her religious beliefs posed no problem, and when certain patients sought contraceptives or abortion pills, they were simply reassigned to another doctor. But in 2013, that changed. New requirements were implemented. After Dr. Fernandes requested a religious accommodation, she was terminated.
Late in 2014, the ACLJ filed a federal lawsuit on her behalf. We aggressively argued that her termination violated the Constitution, federal civil rights laws, and Pennsylvania law.
This year, we secured a significant victory allowing pro-life pediatricians to once again care for children without having to participate in the destruction of life. As part of the settlement, the city agreed to adopt a tremendous policy, protecting religious liberty and permitting its medical providers—like Dr. Fernandes—to redirect patients to other appropriate sources.
The new policy, providing conscience protections for doctors, serves as a model for other cities across the nation to protect religious liberty. It’s a major victory for life and religious liberty made possible by the generosity of our members.
To help the ACLJ continue to have the resources we need to make these victories possible and continue these fights, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the ACLJ through our year-end Matching Challenge. Your gift will be doubled dollar-for-dollar through the end of the year.
You will be able to read more in the ACLJ’s 2015 Victories series here.