US nurses retain right to refuse to assist abortions

A group of nurses in America has won a major court battle against the hospital which tried to force them to help with abortions.

A policy change in September 2011 at a New Jersey hospital required all nurses to participate in abortions, despite state law saying: “No person shall be required to perform or assist in the performance of an abortion or sterilization.”

When one nurse objected to assisting in abortions on the grounds of her religious beliefs, a supervisor at the hospital run by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey responded that it had “no regard for religious beliefs” of nurses who object to participating in abortions.


The group consisting of twelve nurses sued the hospital and the case was supported by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a US based religious liberty group.

ADF’s Matt Bowman, who represented the nurses, said: “No pro-life medical personnel should be forced to assist or train in services related to abortions. The hospital has finally done the right thing in agreeing to obey the law and not force our clients to do any work on abortion cases in violation of their beliefs”.

He added: “The hospital agreed not to penalize our clients in any way because they choose not to participate in abortion according to their legal rights.”


In 2010 a campaign group in America attempted to force medical professionals to go against their consciences and perform abortions.

The American Civil Liberties Union called on the US Department of Health and Human Services to force religiously affiliated hospitals to carry out abortions against the conscientious objections of their doctors and nurses.

In 2009 a Roman Catholic nurse in New York took legal action after her employers forced her to assist with a late-term abortion.


Hospital officials demanded that Catherina Cenzon-DeCarlo help with the termination of a 22-week pregnancy despite having been aware of her religious objection to abortion since 2004.

Mrs Cenzon-DeCarlo had to witness the whole procedure and take the aborted baby to the specimen room. She said the experience caused her emotional and psychological trauma.

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