The Trump administration is suing the University of Vermont Medical Center for allegedly forcing a pro-life nurse to assist in an elective abortion in violation of her deeply-held beliefs - and the law.
According to the lawsuit, the Department of Justice says the hospital, located in Burlington, violated the Church Amendment, which bans hospitals from discriminating against nurses and medical staff who refuse to perform or assist with abortions, when they coerced an operating room nurse into assisting with the abortion.
In her complaint, the nurse, whose name was reportedly on the hospitals list of staff exempt from assisting with abortion procedures due to their pro-life beliefs, says she was told she’d be helping care for a patient who was having a miscarriage. Once in the operating room, however, she realized the procedure was actually an elective abortion of a living baby.
The nurse also alleged that upon realizing the truth, she was not allowed to leave the room, saying her superior told her “Please don’t hate me.” She later resigned from the hospital.
“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,” said lead attorney Jay Sekulow, part of the nurse’s legal team. “ To say that she was emotionally traumatized by this event is putting it mildly.”
The case was reported to the Department of Health and Human Services, who after a review referred it to the Department of Justice.
“Under President Trump, HHS has worked like never before to enforce laws Congress has passed to protect Americans’ religious freedom and conscience rights,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “The University of Vermont Medical Center violated federal conscience laws and refused to work with us to take corrective action, so we are now taking action to hold them to account.”
Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan, a Democrat, defended the hospital in a statement in which he called the lawsuit “a last-ditch effort by the Trump Administration to restrict a woman’s access to abortion — a theme that has permeated throughout Donald Trump’s presidency.”