Twelve nurses at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) said on Monday that the hospital is continuing to pressure them to perform abortion-related services, despite a restraining order issued by a court Nov. 3.
“In October, we were suddenly confronted with a choice between our faith and our jobs,” said Fe Esperanza-Racpan Vinoya, one of the suing University Hospital nurses, at a press conference held yesterday. “They did this in spite of our repeated efforts to tell them we had religious and moral objections. They said very clearly if we did not assist, we would face termination.”
The UMDNJ nurses speak at Monday’s press conference.
Federal law prohibits hospitals that receive certain federal funds from forcing employees to participate in abortions. The hospital run by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey receives approximately $60 million in federal funds annually.
In addition, New Jersey law states, “No person shall be required to perform or assist in the performance of an abortion or sterilization.”
However, the nurses allege in their lawsuit that in September UMDNJ initiated a policy change and began telling Same Day Surgery Unit nurses that they must participate in abortion-related activities, and required them to undergo training in October that involved assisting in surgical abortions.
The lawsuit charges that when one nurse objected to assisting abortions on the grounds of her religious beliefs, a supervisor responded that UMDNJ has “no regard for religious beliefs.”
At Monday’s press conference, the nurses were accompanied by renowned pro-life Representative Rep. Chris Smith.
Smith told the press conference it was “an honor and privilege to join these courageous ‘nurses of conscience.’”
“UMDNJ’s coercive anti-conscience policy is not only highly unethical but blatantly illegal,” he said.
The congressman charged that the hospital “has not only imposed irreparable harm and suffering on its own nurses, but has willfully and recklessly put federal funding for the institution at risk.”
“The illegal and highly unethical policy of coercion by UMDNJ must cease immediately,” Smith said