Fired EMT Sues After Refusing to Transport Woman for Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 11, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Fired EMT Sues After Refusing to Transport Woman for Abortion

by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
May 11, 2004

Elmhurst, IL ( — In a case that has attracted national attention, a lawsuit has been filed against an Illinois ambulance service that fired a worker who refused to transport a woman to an abortion center.

The American Center for Law and Justice, which specializes in constitutional law cases, filed a federal suit against the Elmhurst, Illinois company, claiming that company officials violated Stephanie Adamson’s rights by firing her for her religious beliefs.

"This is a case where an employer fired an employee for acting in accordance with her religious beliefs by refusing to become a participant in an abortion," said ACLJ attorney Frances J. Manion.

"Our client became an EMT (emergency medical technician) because she wanted to save lives, not take lives," Manion said.

The target of the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, is Superior Ambulance Service, where Adamson was hired in 2003.

In August of that year, Adamson, 35, responded to a non-emergency call at Mt. Sinai Hospital. There, she was instructed to transport a woman to an abortion center near Cook County Hospital to have an abortion.

Once Adamson confirmed the nature of the assignment, she made it clear that she could not aid a woman to have an abortion because of her pro-life religious beliefs.

A second crew was called to the scene to transport the woman and Adamson was subsequently fired by a supervisor.

"Under both federal employment discrimination laws and Illinois state laws, employers cannot simply fire an employee who objects to participating in a medical procedure that is contrary to the employee’s religious beliefs," the ACLJ’s Manion said.

"Unfortunately, in this case the company acted in a manner that violated federal and state law and we are confident that the court will ultimately correct this injustice and move to safeguard her rights," he added.

The ambulance company claims that Adamson was fired because she jeopardized a patient’s safety by refusing to transport the woman to an abortion center.

But a number of medical experts say that abortion itself can be extremely harmful to a woman’s physical and psychological health, leading to possible complications which can even include death.

According to the company, the patient suffered from severe abdominal pain. Company officials claim that, as a result of the delay caused by Adamson’s actions, the patient was transported to the emergency room instead of the abortion center.

However, pro-life observers note that if the patient needed medical care, it was appropriate to take her to a hospital rather than to a facility that performs abortions.

In a written statement, officials at Superior Ambulance Service said, "Emergency medical technicians must perform their duties without regard to their own or their patients’ social, political, or religious beliefs."

But Adamson’s legal counsel says that the EMT did not give up her Constitutional rights when she went to work for the ambulance company.

Adamson, a resident of Odell, Illinois, first took her case to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which issued her a notice of right to sue in February of 2004.

According to the lawsuit, the ambulance service violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 along with the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act.

Adamson is seeking a jury trial. She is also asking for damages for loss of income and benefits, along with compensatory and punitive damages.

"The fact is that other arrangements were made to transport this patient to an abortion clinic and our client should not have been punished for exercising her sincerely-held religious beliefs," Manion said.

"Under the circumstances of this case, there was simply no reason why Stephanie Adamson had to be the one who delivered this patient to the abortion clinic," Manion added. "The law is designed to protect — not punish — employees who hold religious beliefs.

"We are hopeful that this suit sends a strong message to employers that they must work to accommodate employees who hold religious beliefs rather than discriminate against them," Manion added.

Related web sites:
American Center for Law and Justice –