Pro-Life Nurse’s Refusal to Do Abortions Changes Chicago Hospital Policy

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 19, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Nurse’s Refusal to Do Abortions Changes Chicago Hospital Policy Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 19
, 2006

Chicago, IL ( — A pro-life nurse who challenged a Chicago hospital’s policy of having its staff participate in abortions has opened the eyes of her co-workers, who never knew they had a choice not to participate. The ordeal points to the reasons behind a Congressional provision that is currently tied up in courts.

At the age of 48, Mary Bauer decided to change careers. She obtained a nursing degree and went to work at a Chicago, Illinois hospital in its labor and delivery unit.

On her first day of work, Bauer arrived excited and looking forward to her new job.

However, after an initial orientation, hospital staff said her first assignment would be assisting in the abortion of a 22 week-old unborn child with Down syndrome.

In an interview with CitizenLink, a Focus on the Family publication, Bauer described her ordeal.

"I just told them, ‘I can’t take that patient. I’m very pro-life. I cannot participate in any way, shape or form. I just can’t do it, so I need an alternate assignment," Bauer told CitizenLink.

She went home that evening and wondered whether she could continue to work at the hospital.

Bauer asked several friends to pray for her situation and looked up Illinois law. To her surprise she found statutes protecting the moral conscience rights of health care workers.

The next day she told co-workers they didn’t have to participate in abortions either.

"They never knew they had a choice," Bauer told the Focus on the Family publication, "and they said, ‘We’ve never had a choice. We always thought this was part of our job and we had to do it.’"

As a result of her steadfastness, the hospital adopted a new policy to protect its staff from being forced to participate in abortions or other morally objectionable activities.
But not every hospital or state has the same policies to protect pro-life health care workers.

That’s why President Bush signed a federal spending bill with a provision sponsored by pro-life Reps. Henry Hyde and Dave Weldon saying the federal government can’t discriminate against doctors, hospitals or health insurance companies that do not want to perform or pay for abortions.

Under the provision, any federal, state or local agency that receives federal money would lose those funds if they engage in such discrimination.

However, pro-abortion California Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed a lawsuit against the law in January 2005. The National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association has also filed a lawsuit against the law.

In the latest action in the case, a federal appeals court ruled that two medical groups for pro-life health care providers can join the Bush administration and Congress in defending the legislation.