Victory: Nurses Allowed to Stand for Life
Imagine you are a nurse. Imagine you have undergone extensive education and training and have chosen to specialize in assisting laboring women to safely deliver their babies. Now imagine that you arrive at work one day only to be informed that if you are not willing to participate in procedures that end the lives of those babies, you will no longer be permitted to work in your chosen field of labor and delivery. One group of nurses at a large West Coast hospital didn’t have to imagine this scenario -- they lived it.
When these nurses first contacted us, their hospital’s Labor & Delivery Unit had recently been placed under the direction of a staunchly pro-abortion doctor, and they were facing the choice of either agreeing to participate in abortions against their moral and religious objections or being permanently transferred out of Labor & Delivery. Never mind the fact that until that time the nurses and their non-objecting colleagues had always worked together and managed the schedule in a way that ensured all patients received proper care, without the objecting nurses having to assist with abortions. No, the hospital was insistent: its Labor & Delivery Unit—you know, the part of the hospital dedicated to serving mothers and their babies—was no place for nurses who believe in the sanctity of human life. If the hospital had its way, pregnant patients who value life would no longer have access to health care personnel who shared their views and values.
Because the nurses were given just a few short weeks to make their decision, we immediately contacted the hospital to inform its administration that its new policy of discrimination was in direct violation of both state and federal laws protecting these nurses’ rights of conscience. We made clear our intention to file a lawsuit if necessary, and, in light of the seriousness of the situation, we enlisted the help of several members of Congress. Rather than correct the problem, for the last several months the hospital has repeatedly tried to find a way to remove these nurses from Labor & Delivery yet avoid the consequences of its discrimination, most recently implementing a scheduling policy that effectively penalized the objecting nurses by requiring them to rotate to a different hospital unit, while rewarding non-objecting nurses by removing them from this rotation and allowing them to work solely in Labor & Delivery. The hospital’s blatant disregard for the nurses’ rights left us with no choice but to prepare to take formal legal action.
We are pleased to report, however, that we received word last week that the hospital has had a change of heart and has agreed to return to its previous scheduling policy. Those Labor & Delivery nurses who have refused to participate in the culture of death that pervades our society will be able to continue to do what they love—and were actually trained for—without being punished for their stand for life. Imagine that.