Louisiana Nurse Wins State Supreme Court Battle in Plan B Conscience Case

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 20, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Louisiana Nurse Wins State Supreme Court Battle in Plan B Conscience Case

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
May 20
, 2009

Baton Rouge, LA (LifeNews.com) — A Louisiana nurse won her battle at the state Supreme Court last Friday when it refused to hear a hospital’s appeal of a lower court decision siding with her. The nurse, Toni Lemly, sued St. Tammany Parish Hospital in 2005 after it refused to grant a reasonable accommodation for her religious beliefs.

Lemly informed hospital staff that she objected to administering the morning after pill because of her religious beliefs.

In response, St. Tammany Parish Hospital fired Lemly from her full-time position and reduced her to part-time status, working only three days a week. Her demotion resulted in a significant reduction in pay and the loss of employee benefits.

The hospital declined several reasonable suggestions made by Lemly, a nurse for 23 years, that would have enabled the facility to continue administering the pill while allowing her to abstain from dispensing it herself. The hospital chose not to act on any of her suggestions.

Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund, a pro-life legal group, filed a lawsuit against the hospital in the 22nd Judicial District Court for the Parish of St. Tammany in June 2005.

The court denied the hospital’s motion for summary judgment in January 2007.

On Friday, the Louisiana Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of that decision.

“Pro-life medical personnel shouldn’t be penalized for their beliefs,” ADF-allied attorney Brian Arabie of Lake Charles, told LifeNews.com. “The hospital acted unlawfully when it refused to make a reasonable accommodation for Ms. Lemly and instead terminated her full-time position.”

“Toni provided St. Tammany Parish Hospital with options that would have accommodated both her full-time position and their wish to distribute the morning-after abortion pill,” Arabie said. “Instead, the hospital chose to engage in discrimination based on her courageous commitment to the unborn."

"We are hopeful that the hospital will change course, do what’s right for a dedicated nurse and her constitutional rights, and discontinue the need for any further litigation," he added.

Arabie said a bill pending in the Louisiana legislature could help other nurses like Lemly.

HB 517, a bill that would protect health care providers’ rights of conscience, passed the Louisiana House of Representatives on Tuesday and now goes to the Senate.

Also awaiting Senate approval, after overwhelming approval by the House, is HB 340, a constitutional amendment that would protect religious liberty rights from violation by the government.

Related web sites:
Alliance Defense Fund – https://www.telladf.org

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