‘If there was ever a violation of the Church Amendment that needed to be enforced, it’s this one…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) The Trump administration threatened to investigate and withdraw funding from a Vermont medical center after the Department of Health and Human Services concluded that a nurse had been forced to participate in an abortion despite her objections.
HHS told the University of Vermont Medical Center that it has 30 days to comply with the federal policy requiring employers to respect employees’ religious rights or lose federal funding.
According to the HHS’ Office of Civil Rights, an unnamed nurse filed a conscience and religious discrimination complaint last year alleging the medical center had forced her “to assist in an elective abortion procedure over her conscience-based objections.”
The nurse had objected to assisting with abortions for years, but the center knowingly forced her to assist by claiming it was “an emergency circumstance.”
The University of Vermont Medical Center has denied the charges.
“We do not discriminate against any employees for exercising their rights to opt out of procedures to which they object,” the University of Vermont Medical Center’s communications strategist, Annie Mackin, said in a statement.
HHS’s Office of Civil Rights Director Roger Severino said the administration chose the nurse’s case “because if there was ever a violation of the Church Amendment that needed to be enforced, it’s this one.”
“The law is what the law says, and that is what we are charged with enforcing,” Severino told reporters.
Alliance Defending Freedom’s Denise Burke praised the Trump administration’s decision to stand up for the nurse and protect her religious beliefs.
“Medical professionals should never be forced to sacrifice their commitment to protecting life to serve those in need,” Burke said in a statement.
“That’s why protecting the freedom to live and work consistent with one’s conscience is critical: It is at the heart of what motivates many who enter the medical field, a profession full of individuals who dedicate their lives to healing and doing no harm,” she said.