Pro-life medical workers are being pushed out of the profession for daring to insist that unborn babies are valuable patients who deserve care.
And even some Catholic hospitals are contributing to this anti-life trend, according to a new report by the National Catholic Register.
The news outlet highlighted the story of an Oregon physician assistant named Megan Kreft who recently was fired for refusing to refer patients for abortions, assisted suicide and other things that she morally objects to.
Kreft said she took the job with Providence Medical Group, a Catholic health organization, because she thought it shared her pro-life values. She said she felt pleased when her employer told her that she had to agree to follow the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services,” which promotes life-affirming medical care from conception to natural death.
Then, she said, when she began the job, she found out that some other medical professionals were doing things contrary to the bishops’ directive, including providing sterilizations and hormonal contraception.
Before long, Kreft herself was asked to violate her conscience when a patient came in seeking emergency contraception, which may cause an early abortion, according to the report. Kreft said she told the patient that she could not prescribe or refer for the emergency contraception drugs, and she offered other resources instead.
Kreft said she got in trouble with her employer, was prohibited from seeing patients of childbearing age and later fired for refusing to refer patients for things that she believes are morally wrong, according to the report.
“My goal in sharing my story is to be an advocate for other health-care professionals who might find themselves in similar situations, whether it be at secular institutions or even Catholic institutions and also to bring to light some of the unfortunate assault on human life that’s happening even within our Catholic institutions,” Kreft said.
She contacted the National Catholic Bioethics Center and filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights.
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Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights, told the Register that pro-life medical workers are being driven out of medicine.
“There’s a movement that tries to squelch dissent on the question of abortion so that those that stand up for life are being systematically driven out of the medical profession,” Severino said. “Nobody should be fired from their position as a medical professional because they refuse to participate in the taking of a human life in abortion. It’s illegal, if you receive federal funds. You may expect an enforcement action from the HHS Office for Civil Rights, if you do such a thing.”
Severino’s office has been fighting to protect pro-life medical workers from employment discrimination. Last year, it became involved in a Vermont nurse’s case after she said her employer, the University of Vermont Medical Center, tricked her into participating in an abortion against her will.
The Trump administration also created a new rule to better enforce conscience protections and punish medical groups that discriminate against pro-life medical workers. Two federal judges invalidated the rule after pro-abortion groups filed suit, but doctors and medical professionals are fighting back.
Researchers and legal experts confirmed that discrimination is “quite common,” despite federal conscience protection laws.
Francis Manion, an attorney with the American Center for Law and Justice, told the Register that they have received many complaints.
“In just the past two weeks, I have spoken with a nurse threatened with termination for questioning her hospital’s allowing an abortion to be performed, a doctor threatened with firing over her request to be accommodated when faced with administering a certain drug that she believes is an abortifacient, and a technician told he must sign a form that would effectively require him to participate in abortions whenever his employer unilaterally decides that patient care requires him to,” Manion said.
Dr. Jozef Zalot with the National Catholic Bioethics Center told the news outlet that Kreft is a hero for standing strong for her faith and unborn babies’ right to life. He said both Catholic and secular hospitals need to do better.
“In fact, I’ve had doctors tell me that actually, in a lot of cases, secular hospitals do a better job of protecting conscience than do Catholic hospitals. It’s bad,” he said. “Whatever support we gave, Megan’s the real hero in all of this, for standing up to a Catholic health-care system that basically isn’t Catholic anymore.”
In 2018, the Office for Civil Rights received received 343 complaints about religious or moral discrimination. Severino said they were able to stop two state policies in Hawaii and California that forced pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise abortions.
But there is much more work to be done, and abortion activists are trying to limit conscience protections as the Trump administration works to expand them.
“There’s a real issue out here where people feel their rights have been violated and that they need redress and I think that explains the big growth in the number of complaints,” Severino said in 2019. “It’s been long overdue that they need attention.”