Two prominent U.S. Catholic bishops criticized President Joe Biden recently for refusing to defend the conscience rights of a pro-life nurse who was forced to help abort an unborn baby.
Archbishop Joseph Naumann, of Kansas City, Kansas, and Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, of New York, said the Vermont nurse suffered a “horrific civil rights violation” and the Biden administration has a duty to uphold her rights, The Leaven reports.
“It is hard to imagine a more horrific civil rights violation than being forced to take an innocent human life,” they said in a statement. “HHS found that the University of Vermont Medical Center forced a nurse, against her known religious beliefs, to do just that.”
The Trump administration defended the nurse after she said medical professionals at the University of Vermont Medical Center tricked her into helping with an elective abortion even though they knew she objected.
But on July 30, the Biden administration dropped the case without comment.
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“This is not only deeply wrong, but a violation of federal law,” Naumann and Dolan responded. “We call on the [Biden] administration to stand up for the basic dignity of our nation’s health care workers by reopening this case, and on Congress to pass the Conscience Protection Act so that doctors and nurses can defend their own rights in court.”
In 2017, the woman, an operating room nurse at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington, was forced into participating in an elective abortion that went against her deeply held religious beliefs, according to the lawsuit against the hospital.
Lawyers involved in the case said she intentionally was misled into thinking she would be doing a procedure to remove the body of a dead baby following a miscarriage, when in reality she was being forced to assist in killing the unborn baby in an elective abortion.
In a complaint, the ACLJ legal group said her name was on a list of nurses who, for religious or moral reasons, were opposed to abortions, and other non-objecting nurses were available who could easily have taken her place.
“In the more than two decades of work that ACLJ has done to defend the rights of conscience of pro-life health care workers, this is by far the most outrageous case we’ve ever seen. Our client’s most fundamental beliefs about the sanctity of life were simply brushed aside,” said ACLJ lead attorney Jay Sekulow, previously.
“Worse, her superiors deliberately misled her into thinking she was assisting in a procedure following a miscarriage. But once trapped inside the OR she discovered that it was, in fact, an elective abortion and that this had been known all along by her superiors who then callously refused to relieve her. To say that she was emotionally traumatized by this event is putting it mildly,” he continued.
Previously, under President Donald Trump, the HHS Office of Civil Rights referred the University of Vermont Medical Center case to the Department of Justice after a thorough investigation of the hospital’s actions. The Office of Civil Rights concluded that the hospital unlawfully forced the nurse to assist in an elective abortion despite the nurse’s conscience-based objections and refused to change its policies to prevent future coercion. As a result of the referral, the Department of Justice sued the hospital.
The lawsuit maintained that the public, taxpayer-funded hospital violated federal law. The Church Amendment, federal law enacted in the 1970s after the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton Supreme Court rulings, prohibits hospitals funded by the Public Health Service Act from discriminating against doctors and nurses who refuse to participate in abortion. The Church Amendment protects abortion-related conscience rights of both individuals and institutions.
The Biden administration is radically pro-abortion, and its allies in the abortion industry likely are pressuring the president to abandon conscience protections for pro-life medical workers. Abortion activists recently have begun advocating openly to end conscience rights and force pro-life doctors, nurses and other medical workers to help abort unborn babies.