By David Giambusso
Religion News Service
A teaching hospital will hire additional staff to help perform abortions after a group of nurses claimed they were forced to participate in the procedures despite religious objections.
"No nurse is compelled to have direct involvement in a procedure to which she or he objects based on his/her cultural values, ethics and/or religious beliefs," Jeffrey Tolvin, a spokesman for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey said in a statement on Friday (Dec. 2).
"At the same time, we needed to find a solution that is in the best interest of the patients we serve. We are therefore hiring additional staff who will provide care to our full complement of patients."
In November, 12 nurses at UMDNJ filed suit, saying the hospital was forcing them to assist in the operations despite declared religious objections.
Aside from aiding doctors in the procedures, the nurses argued that post-operative patient care and administrative duties surrounding the procedures constituted involvement.
If upheld in court, the nurses' claims could mean UMDNJ violated federal law, which bars institutions receiving federal dollars from forcing their staff members to assist in abortions.
"The university is in full compliance with all applicable state and federal laws," the school said when the nurses brought suit. "Its position will be vindicated when the court gives this matter a full hearing."
A hearing in federal district court was scheduled for Monday (Dec. 5). The Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing the nurses, said only a court-approved agreement would mean the school "might finally be interested in following the law."
David Giambusso writes for The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J.