Christian Right Group Complains because Client Would Have to Care for Women Who Have Abortions

***Update***: Vanderbilt will be changing their application. It now reads:

“While Vanderbilt expects all health care providers, including nurses who participate in the Nurse Residency Program’s Women’s Health Track, to provide compassionate care to all patients… no health care provider is required to participate in a procedure terminating a pregnancy if such participation would be contrary to an individual’s religious beliefs or moral convictions.”

I think they’re caving unnecessarily. They’re also giving the Christians a victory they don’t deserve, but my theory is Vanderbilt just inserted the disclaimer to end the problem, thinking “Who cares? We don’t make them perform an abortion, anyway.”

Why would anyone go into a profession they’re clearly not suited for?

Why would a Christian become a pharmacist if he refuses to dispense certain (perfectly healthy) drugs for religious reasons?

Why would a vegetarian who refuses to touch meat apply for a job at McDonalds?

If you can’t do even the most basic things asked of you, maybe you’re in the wrong line of work.

Vanderbilt University understands this. So in their application for a nurse residency program (PDF), they acknowledge that nurses are expected to care for all patients, not just select ones:

Nurses in the Center for Women’s Health support women through these decisions and provide professional evidence based care specific to each situation. One difficult decision women face is termination of pregnancy. If you are chosen for the Nurse Residency Program in the Women’s Health track, you will be expected to care for women undergoing termination of pregnancy.

It is important that you are aware of this aspect of care and give careful consideration to your ability to provide compassionate care to women in these situations. If you feel you cannot provide care to women during this type of event, we encourage you to apply to a different track of the Nurse Residency Program to explore opportunities that may best fit your skills and career goals.

Makes sense to me. Some women will get abortions, and the nurses in this program are expected to care for them just like they would care for every other patient. The form containing those statements requires a mandatory signature if you want to apply for the program.

And that’s a problem for the Christian Alliance Defense Fund because they see this whole “compassion for all people” thing as discrimination against Christian students (PDF).

Miss [redacted] is a fourth year student in the nursing program at [redacted]. She wishes to pursue a career providing excellent care to pregnant women and their
preborn children. She is not only eligible to apply to Vanderbilt’s nurse residency program, she is a stellar applicant with excellent grades. As required by Vanderbilt, Miss [redacted] submitted a pre-qualifying application through Vanderbilt’s jobs website, and as a result she received the attached full Application via email. Miss [redacted] can and is prepared to submit all that the application requires and to fulfill all of the program’s requirements, except only that she has a religious objection to participating in abortions and to promising to do so by signing the Application’s letter. She wishes to apply to the program by the January 28 deadline, but faces denial of admission and discrimination against her application if she does not agree to assist abortions as stated in the letter.

That’s news to me. Who knew caring for women who have had abortions was equivalent to “assisting” in an abortion procedure?

The ADF says that a federal statute (PDF) informally known as the “Church Amendment” says that if you receive money from the government, you:

… [cannot require an] individual to perform or assist in the performance of any sterilization procedure or abortion if his performance or assistance in the performance of such procedure or abortion would be contrary to his religious beliefs or moral convictions…

You also cannot:

… deny admission or otherwise discriminate against any
applicant (including applicants for internships and residencies) for training or study because of the applicant’s reluctance, or willingness, to counsel, suggest, recommend, assist, or in any way participate in the performance of abortions or sterilizations contrary to or consistent with the applicant’s religious beliefs or moral convictions.

Well, that’s not a problem.

No one is asking the nurses to perform the abortions, only to help counsel the women who chose to have one done.

Notice how the ADF spins this whole story:

“The specific issue here is the language of acknowledgment that says applicants will be expected to care for women undergoing termination of pregnancy,” said David French, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund. “That is in clear violation of federal law.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center spokesman John Howser said the acknowledgment was created to inform applicants that they will be asked to provide care to women who have had, or are seeking, abortions.

It does not mean to suggest that residents with religious or moral objections will be required to participate in the actual procedures, said Howser, who noted that nursing students are not required to sign a similar letter of acknowledgment.

“If you choose to participate (in the nurse residency program), you will be around patients who have had or are seeking terminations, and you may be asked to care for them,” Howser said. “It does not say that you are required to participate in performing or in the performance of terminations.”

French is confused. He seems to think it’s a “violation of the law” to show compassion for women who might be having abortions — even he doesn’t say that the students will be performing the procedures.

This is what Christian right groups do so often.

They know they’re rarely, if ever, discriminated against. So they just make up sob stories out of thin air and pretend like the world is against them. It’s not. And the ADF deserves to lose this case.

Vanderbilt isn’t doing anything wrong — if anything, they went out of their way to let applicants know they will be dealing with abortion patients as well as all the other ones.

As I said earlier, if you’re unable to help all the patients in your care, then nursing isn’t the profession for you.

I’m sure you can apply to work in a Christian ministry instead. They’re experts at selective compassion; just ask a gay person who wants to get married.

(via Religion Clause)

  • http://theehtheist.blogspot.com The “Eh”theist

    It would appear that they are trying to use the phrase “in any way participate” from the 2nd quote of the legislation (poorly written as it is)to cover providing care outside of the procedure itself. It’s hard to say how a court would rule on that.

    What would be useful to know would be exactly how much money Vanderbilt receives from the specific funding programs mentioned in the legislation and then see if there was a way to replace that money with another source so that no legal ambiguity would exist.

    It would also be great if the legislation were rewritten to clean it up and clarify it, but that’s unlikely given the current legislative environment.

    All said, I don’t think one would want someone who thought these women were vile sinners providing them with aftercare when they might be emotionally vulnerable. Better to take and segregate this woman per her wishes than to take the christian woman who signs the form eagerly and who would volunteer to work with women post abortion in order to subject them to an altar call and confession-that’s the person one really needs to keep out of the program.

  • Heidi

    Hey, I want to be a scientist, but I am religiously opposed to math. Can I be excused?

  • Michael

    I don’t mean to be a conspiracy nutjob, but [redacted] sounds like a totally made up last name.

  • TheG

    I agree with the general statement, but disagree with a small point. As a BSN-RN, I want to let some people know what it is I sometimes do.
    I PROVIDE ABORTIONS.

    Sure, General Doctor Border signs the order, Major Pharmacist Scott brings the shot, Captain CNA Bammer carries the rammer, but, Drummer Nurse Hoff fires it off.

    I’m not proud of it, but I’m proud of my profession and its integrity. Most of the ladies would miscarry (if they don’t die first) anyway. I give them a medication that causes the unborn to be expelled and die. I am the proximate cause and administrator of the substance that ends the fetus’ chance. It bothered me the first time; it really bothered me the first time I did it after finding out I’m soon going to be a father. BUT IT IS MY JOB. We, as nurses, are put in all sorts of ethical positions that we would rather not engage in. But, they are OUR patients. They came to us for care, compassion, education, lifesaving treatments, and to make tomorrow a brighter day than today.

    I swap treatments and procedures with other nurses all the time. One gal doesn’t like giving foley catheters to men. One of my fellow men has a thing against patients under 13. I get woozy at any eye [gah!] touching (even medication)! We help each other out, but I know that when the full bedpan hits the fan, that gal will drop a foley, that man will compassionately cradle a crying newborn, and I will [grrrr...] pull a contact lens out of someone’s acid filled eyes.
    What this girl was being asked to do is just the tip of what she will face on daily basis once she hits the floor of her residency program and hourly upon finding her independent practice. If she can’t separate her religion from her job, there are plenty of seminary schools that will take her money. Alternatively, I hear there is a certain theme park opening in Kentucky where she can run the cotton candy booth…

  • http://theaspiringgeek.blogspot.com Kevin S.

    The actual language used in the application packet is “during these types of events.” That’s ambiguous enough that it’s not necessarily apparent that they wouldn’t be required to perform the procedure. Now, Vanderbilt being in TN, that probably isn’t the intent of the program, but the wording leaves something to be desired.

  • cypressgreen

    When I was a tech assistant, I worked with a radiation therapist who was unfriendly to any person with Karposi’s Sarcoma. Most patients with this cancer are homosexuals.

    She was not rude, but also not warm and reassuring like she was to everyone else.
    She said they gat what they had coming to them because they chose to be (sinning) gays.

    I alwasy wondered why she didn’t treat people with lung cancer or cervical cancer (or some others) in a similar fashion. After all, some of them had it coming, too (sarcasm).

    note: in case you don’t know, the chance of getting cervical cancer rises with the number of sexual partners one has had.

  • JoeBuddha

    [@cypressgreen] Kinda makes you wonder: What part of “Judge not” is giving them difficulties?

    I have the same problem with these pharmacists only dispensing medicine they personally approve of. If a warehouse job required lifting 50 pounds over my head, I’m not going to claim “wimp discrimination” if I can’t do it; I’m going to find another job. If there are legitimate parts of the job you refuse to do, why would you even apply?[/rant]

  • Arachobia

    I see this as a sign of religious bondage between muslim and christian fundamentalists;

    Now the muslims can complain about non-muslims drawing Mohammed and the christians can complain about non-christians getting abortions. It can be called the Everyone Else Should Follow Our (Only Justifiable By The Supernatural) Beliefs Too roundtable.

  • Erin

    We have this issue just learning about human services at my college. We had one women last semester who came out and said “planed parenthood is evil” Most of us in class know we will have to counsel women who may make the choice to have an abortion, and we have an ethical standard to follow in cases like these were we disagree with the person’s choice but must respect them. Nurses have ethical standards as well I believe, shouldn’t this issue be covered in some way?

  • http://twoangryvoices.blogspot.com Aegis

    I dunno, Erin – isn’t the point to work out what’s best for the patient? This religious crap is basically the nurses refusing to prioritise anything but what’s best for themselves and their beliefs.

  • Jennifer

    Health professions are all about providing services (treatments, surgeries, medications, etc) to patients. If a religious person cannot or just refuses to acknowledge that they will have patients with differing opinions come to them for care, and that those patients have the right to choices regarding their health, they should find something else to do.

    Reading this has made me consider becoming an abortion doctor.

  • jose

    TheG,
    “I PROVIDE ABORTIONS.

    I’m not proud of it, but I’m proud of my profession and its integrity. Most of the ladies would miscarry (if they don’t die first) anyway.”

    Why? Why are you not proud of it?

    This stigma abortion have over there in America feels so alien to me. Even people who support the right of women to have an abortion is inclined to make excuses and apologize for it, like “yeah I know it isn’t right but sometimes it’s necessary and they’re gonna have abortions anyway so we might as well provide a safe environment”, etc etc.

    Why the excuses?

  • Claudia

    I want to retort that it’s the height of hypocrisy that they want to have a special dispensation from their duties because of a purely religious objection, given that they do not demand that they be allowed to not treat gay patients or unwed mothers.

    I want to retort it, but I realize that many of these people would love to be able to have the right to refuse to treat sinners of all stripes. The only reason they don’t is because they don’t feel they can get away with it.

    Most women who need hospital care for an abortion are probably not in the best place in their lives right at that moment. Late-term abortion in particular almost always happens under exceptionally awful circumstances, of threat to the mothers life or terrible condition of the fetus, even if these self-righteous assholes seem to think women do it for shits and giggles. The last thing a woman needs at that moment is some bitch or asshole calling them a murderer and treating them like crap when they are so vulnerable. I’m fairly certain there are many pro-life nurses who would treat any patient with compassion and good standards of care even if they personally disagreed with the choice of the woman. However I wouldn’t want to be under the control of a person who was being forced against his or her will to treat me. I’d frankly much rather they switch around like @TheG described. However I don’t want it to be legal for medical personnel to be able to deny me care based purely on religious convictions, because when push comes to shove and there’s no alternative person around, the ability to refuse to treat is the ability to deny care altogether, and I don’t think this should be allowed.

  • Min

    Why? Why are you not proud of it?

    I’m not TheG, but I’m going to guess it has to do with the fact that in America, the Religious Right pushes very, very hard the notion that abortion is murder — and thus, by performing an abortion, one is murdering a baby.

    It’s an inaccurate and purely emotional argument, of course, but if you repeat it often enough and associate some disturbing images with it, it’ll stick in peoples’ minds.

  • http://whatpalebluedot.blogspot.com/ WhatPaleBlueDot

    Well, TheG, I’m proud of you for providing this care to women. You’re doing a wonderful, compassionate thing.

  • Steven

    Jose says:
    The G said:I’m not proud of it, but I’m proud of my profession and its integrity. Most of the ladies would miscarry (if they don’t die first) anyway.”

    Why? Why are you not proud of it?

    This stigma abortion have over there in America feels so alien to me. Even people who support the right of women to have an abortion is inclined to make excuses and apologize for it, like “yeah I know it isn’t right but sometimes it’s necessary and they’re gonna have abortions anyway so we might as well provide a safe environment”, etc etc.

    Why the excuses?”

    Good question Jose – I think some of the excuses are religion-based while others stem from an inability to differentiate between a few cells with the potential to become a baby and a living, breathing human being. Everyone (unless they are psychotic) feels a deep aversion to the very idea of “killing a baby”. Since most of us are not that scientifically literate, pregnancy = baby. Even for those that don’t believe in a God that condemns abortions, the concept is a troubling one. It is my hope that better education, less stigma regarding open discussion about sex, and fading religious influence will reduce the need for abortions. In the meantime, I also hope that more people will recognize that the right to make our own reproductive choices is a fundamental human right.

  • Hypatia’s Daughter

    What if the nurse works in the emergency room? Can she refuse to care for a patient admitted with post-abortion complications? Can she refuse to draw blood on the ward for an abortion patient?
    Abortions are a lot more complicated than presented in the popular press. An abortion is a medical procedure performed on a woman & has nothing to do with the status or condition of the fetus. Removing a dead fetus or an ectopic pregnancy can be medically & legally considered an abortion.

    Between my 2nd & 3rd child I had a spontaneous abortion at 10 weeks. I began bleeding heavily & was admitted to the hospital, put on an IV while for 36 hours they repeatedly took blood tests. I asked why so many blood tests – well, they were waiting for my hormone levels to drop to a non-pregnant level. If they did a D&C before then, it would be medically & legally an abortion (& require the approval of 3 doctors, this being Canada in the 1980s). If my hormone levels showed I was no longer pregnant, it would be a simple D&C. After 36 hours, just as my levels dropped, I passed a calcified lump, thus solving the problem for them.
    So, I had to endure 36 hours of IV’s and heavy bleeding (which worried me because I would need transfusions if it went on any longer) – all these risks, just to skirt having an abortion to remove what everyone agreed was probably a dead fetus.
    Could a nurse refuse to care for me because I might end up having an abortion?
    A worse case was a friend who had two babies die less than 2 weeks before her delivery date. She had to carry & deliver them. Why? I suppose doctors consider natural deliveries safer than performing what would be an abortion to remove the dead fetus. But I sometimes wonder if they put her through that hell just to avoid the legal messiness an abortion would cause…

  • Beth

    So, if Vanderbilt caves to the Christians on this, doesn’t it set a legal precedent that students may pick and choose what they learn? Maybe a nursing candidate doesn’t want to care for people with diabetes because they are overweight and brought their disease on themselves. Or another doesn’t want to care for someone with lung cancer because they smoked all their life. Another won’t care for you because you caused a car accident in which a child was injured and you have a broken leg. And, re: abortion comments, if the government were ever to outlaw abortion, once they had control over women’s bodies, what would be next? Christians often rail against China’s one child only law and forced abortions. How would forced pregnancies be any different for the US? It’s government control over a woman’s body, rather than the woman having the control.

  • Regina Balvanz

    I don’t think you have to be willing to assist in abortion procedures and aftercare to be a nurse. There is such a need for good nurses in so many areas of healthcare that I don’t think accomodating her request should be such a big deal. She isn’t saying they should end the program and she’s not standing outside their building with a picket sign yelling at women as they walk in. Her moral compass tells her this is wrong and she isn’t willing to compromise her values. Good for her!

  • Regina Balvanz

    Totally agree with Stephen’s post:
    I think some of the excuses are religion-based while others stem from an inability to differentiate between a few cells with the potential to become a baby and a living, breathing human being. Everyone (unless they are psychotic) feels a deep aversion to the very idea of “killing a baby”. Since most of us are not that scientifically literate, pregnancy = baby. Even for those that don’t believe in a God that condemns abortions, the concept is a troubling one. It is my hope that better education, less stigma regarding open discussion about sex, and fading religious influence will reduce the need for abortions. In the meantime, I also hope that more people will recognize that the right to make our own reproductive choices is a fundamental human right

  • nankay

    Sheesh! If she got her dream job caring for mothers and newborns, would she have a problem with caring for unwed mothers as well? What about non-Christians?

  • pmsrhino

    @Hypatia’s Daughter

    Stories like that terrify me. Part of the reason I never plan on having children of my own is because I never ever want to be treated like an incubator first and a person second. When it’s suddenly more important to make sure a fetus is technically dead before removing it than to make sure the woman that is carrying that potentially harmful dead fetus lives and gets the best care she can (or a dead fetus is more important than her decision to not want a dead thing inside her anymore) that pretty much takes me out of the “wants to have babies” pool. I have no desire to ever be put in a situation like that.

    I tried to explain this to my mom and dad once, that abortions technically cover many different procedures including removing miscarriages. My mom herself had a miscarriage removed by a D&C, and she didn’t understand that under some state laws she may have not been able to get that procedure when she needed it. And if laws had been worse like in the past she may have not been able to get the procedure at all. I think if more people realized the vast definitions and procedures that the term “abortion” covers, they may think differently about it.

    Or they may not give a shit because SOME “babies” may still die. Some of these nutbags would rather hundreds of women die rather than lose even one “precious baby of God.”

    Also: I think the place was being very considerate outlining exactly what the nurses may be expected to do. Though you can’t seem to win, either you hire the nurse and they eventually have to deal with an abortion situation and get pissed and claim discrimination because they were forced to help and weren’t informed of this duty (wasn’t there a nurse a while ago that complained about having to help in an emergency, life saving abortion procedure who did just that?) or you state the requirements up front and you still get in trouble for “discrimination.” You just cannot win when it comes to the religious right. It’s just ridiculous.

  • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

    There is a growing pattern of religious people claiming that their beliefs give them a right to discriminate against others in services rendered in various public facilities. If they are expected to avoid discriminating against others, then these particular religious people assert that this is a form of discrimination against them.

    Really? What if the person you are rendering services to has religious/spiritual/philosophical beliefs that run contrary to the person who is doing the discriminating? Who is discriminating against whom? Why are your beliefs any more important than theirs? Why should your beliefs receive special consideration? Because your version of god, spirit, or whatever makes it so?

    The bottom line here is that a subset of religious people in the US think that their particular variation of religion should be privileged above all other perspectives and that their religious conviction supersedes everyone else’s civil rights. Consequently, religious belief can be used to justify any manor of discriminatory and prejudicial behavior toward others. All other considerations of basic fairness and civil decency should be swept away by the supposed primacy of religious belief—especially if that religious belief represents a particular strain of Christianity.

    So, listen up religious folk who think they are special flowers who deserve more rights than others: there are plenty of people whose spiritual/religious/philosophical beliefs run contrary to yours on a whole host of issues. Supposedly, the US is a country that respects a plurality of beliefs in religious matters. It’s not possible to respect a plurality of beliefs if your particular beliefs are honored above others. It’s not possible to respect a plurality of beliefs if your variant of belief is treated as a legal basis to discriminate against others who hold differing beliefs. If you are dealing with the public and consequently, dealing with a great variety of individuals from different belief systems, your rights do not supersede theirs. Either learn to compromise, or find a profession that doesn’t violate your religious beliefs.

    Besides, there have certainly been examples of religious people claiming that their religious beliefs justify discrimination against African Americans. Remember that racial discrimination was once embedded in Mormon belief. Remember how the “mark of Cain” or “curse of Cain” was once used as a justification to discriminate against African Americans by Christians in the past?

    So, if someone claims that their religious beliefs prevent them from serving a person of differing race or ethnicity when carrying out the duties of their employment, is that justifiable? Where do we draw the line in using religious belief as a justification in discriminating against others?

    If some religion starts to claim a spiritual basis for discriminating against a particular ethnicity or race, should the government allow their community to institute a form of segregation in their community?

  • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

    And by community, I mean a town or neighborhood.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    There are plenty of things that I refuse to do. I won’t kill. I won’t eat meat. I won’t clear up the waste of others (except close family members who are ill). I won’t euthanize animals or people (because I’m squeamish like that) and I won’t ever work in front line helpdesk support again, not for the rest of my natural born days.

    Of course, I don’t expect to get paid to do these things so that’s OK. I’ve excluded myself from a military or security career, from being a food taster for a wealthy but paranoid king, from nursing, cleaning or working in a restaurant, from working as a veterinarian and the medical profession and from working in purgatory helpdesk support. I’m not going to whine like a Christian being fed to a lion about it. It is my choice and I have to live with the limits I’ve chosen to impose on my life.

  • Ibis

    To be constitutional, shouldn’t this law be the other way around: i.e. any medical/nursing/pharmaceutical programme or facility receiving government money should have to ensure that everyone participating is willing to perform any legal procedure? Otherwise, the government is discriminating against patients who don’t subscribe to the morality of specific religions.

  • Ibis

    @pmsrhino

    The Supreme Court of Canada agreed with you about the incubator thing when someone* took the 3-doctor law to court. The court struck down the law as it infringed on the right to security of person of women. Now we have no abortion laws.

    So if you ever change your mind about having children, consider having them in Canada.

    *Thank you, Dr. Henry Morgentaler.

  • Alice

    The thing that always bothers me most about these kinds of arguments is the fact that the Bible actually values fetal life less than full-grown-human life, and Christians conveniently forget about that (as well as all of the verses in the Bible arguing for caring for others).

    Exodus 21:22 “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

    What equates to abortion isn’t even considered a serious injury. So…. wtf.

  • http://n8chz.blogspot.com/ Lori

    Pharmacists, being an ‘in-demand’ profession, I suppose are in a position to make demands. Most people who aren’t in one of the guillicensed professions have to make hard choices between ‘not selling out’ (whatever that means to them personally) and pursuing career success (whatever that means to them personally). The overriding assumptions that all of us are expected to live with include the notion that nobody’s entitled to a living, or even the setting in which to earn one (i.e. nobody’s entitled to a J.O.B.) and that the J.O.B. world is udderly without ‘conscientious objector’ provisions. There’s part of me that would actually like to see that changed, but what makes pharmacists so special?

  • http://brielle.sosdg.org Brielle

    I don’t know if this was already covered or not, but we’ve had an incident with a pharmacist here in Idaho that refused to dispense medications because a woman was taking pills that might be used after an abortion.

  • Robert W.

    I think you are missing the point. It looks like the objection to the admission program requirement is this language:

    “care for women undergoing termination of pregnancy”

    This means that despite the law that says she can’t be, she might be ordered to assist in an abortion against he moral or religious beliefs. That is far different from providing nursing care to a lady either before or after the termination.

    Why should she be denied the right to pursue her chosen profession because Vanderbilt is violating Federal Law?

    If Vanderbilt’s response is accurate then the form they are using needs to be changed. If they are correct and this applicant will never be asked to assist in performing abortions but will be asked to care for ladies before and after them and she refuses then maybe she does need to rethink her profession. However, that is not what she has said her objections are.

    Despite that counseling might be an issue. I assume that if she is asked to counsel a lady contemplating an abortion she would still be required not to counsel her against having one and would be forced to say things against her moral and religious convictions so in that instance there maybe a problem. I would think that if that is the case she should be allowed to defer to another nursing student without those conflicts.

    My father was an OB-Gyn. He refused to perform abortions because of his moral and religious beliefs. That did not prevent him from providing excellent care to thousands of patients over his career, including delivering over 4000 babies. Are you saying that he should have never become an OB-GYN just because he would not perform abortions?

    Alice,

    Your interpretation of Exodus 21:22 is actually backwards. It shows the value of the unborn as a human being. If the baby is born alive without injury, a fine was levied showing that even as an unborn the baby had value. If the baby is born dead then it is treated as murder- life for life.

  • altar ego

    Everything I want to say about doing the job you signed up to do has already been said, so I, too, also want to thank TheG for providing important medical care to people.

  • http://skepticat.blogspot.com/ Skepticat

    It’s not just abortion. Try being a female in the South who wants a hysterectomy or some other type of sterilization. Even if you have a high risk for ovarian cancer and likely will never have kids, male doctors will sometimes refuse to even discuss it “just in case” you change your mind. The pressure for women to have babies here is ridiculously insane and, sometimes, dangerous.

  • rarian rakista

    Can you please stop it with the abortion issue fetish and stick to matters of actual atheism? There are many atheist pro-lifers out there and numerous secular reasons to question the ethics of abortion, for you to link a pro-abortion stance to atheism is intellectually dishonest at best.

  • jose

    Robert W,

    “My father was an OB-Gyn. He refused to perform abortions because of his moral and religious beliefs. That did not prevent him from providing excellent care to thousands of patients over his career, including delivering over 4000 babies. Are you saying that he should have never become an OB-GYN just because he would not perform abortions?”

    My cousin is a waiter. He refuses to serve black people because his religion tells him negroes are cursed with the mark of Cain. That what he believes and you should respect his faith even though you may not agree with him. Over the years he has served more than 609423789 lattes to non-cursed people. Are you saying that it’s not okay just because he wouldn’t serve the cursed colored?

    I don’t care what differences you might note about my imaginary cousin and your father. It is his faith. You should respect it.

    Okay, enough with the analogy, surely you see the problem here already. The point is: your job description is more important than your faith because you’re in the business of helping people and you’re refusing to help people who need your help.

    Yes, he should have never become an OB-GYN. He was a bad OB-GYN, because he cared more about himself (his faith) than about her patients who needed a medical care they didn’t get. Awful.

  • Drew M.

    @rarian rakista
    You can, you know, always NOT READ any of Hemant’s posts regarding abortions. You’re every bit as whiney and self-entitled as Ms. Redacted is in this story. This is still HIS blog and he’s free to post whatever he wants.

    Back on topic, it looks like Ms. Redacted won:

    Vanderbilt changes nursing application requirements, after complaints.

  • Robert W.

    Jose,

    Okay, enough with the analogy, surely you see the problem here already. The point is: your job description is more important than your faith because you’re in the business of helping people and you’re refusing to help people who need your help.

    Yes, he should have never become an OB-GYN. He was a bad OB-GYN, because he cared more about himself (his faith) than about her patients who needed a medical care they didn’t get. Awful.

    Do you really think that your analogy is sound? Your imaginary cousin acting racist and not serving a latte is the same as my father not wanting to take a life? It’s not.

    Just because he didn’t perform the abortions doesn’t mean any women was denied care. What it does mean is that he didn’t knowingly take what he considered to be a life and make money doing so which went against his religious and moral conscious.

  • jose

    Yes, I think it is sound, and you haven’t offered a convincing argument against it. All you have done is asking me what I think. Well you know what I think. I think he was awful.

    “Just because he didn’t perform the abortions doesn’t mean any women was denied care.”

    ‘Hi, I need medical care.’
    ‘No.’

    It really looks like denying care, doesn’t it? Sure, those women who needed your father’s help could find another doctor elsewhere. And another latte elsewhere, too, if they were cursed with the mark of Cain.

    You see a difference between these two cases because you believe race equality is right while abortion is wrong. That’s all. The fact is that a person is putting himself above what he is supposed to do according to his job description. In the case of medical care, it leads to particularly ugly consequences, like refusing to help people who need help.

    “doing so which went against his religious and moral conscious.”

    Translation: He cared more about himself (his religion, his morality) than about the women who needed his help.

  • Mihangel apYrs

    @rarian rakista

    in this case her religious beliefs are intrinsic to the issue.

    Abortion is a touchy subject, but no nurse should refuse to follow her vocation before and after the procedure, while not enabling it.

    All members of the medical profession from time to time have to deal with patients who they deeply disapprove of (murderers, terrorists), the oath is intrinsic to the vocations

  • Robert W.

    Jose,

    Yes, I think it is sound, and you haven’t offered a convincing argument against it. All you have done is asking me what I think. Well you know what I think. I think he was awful.

    Racism is illegal. Refusing to perform an abortion for religious or moral grounds isn’t, in fact it was his right.

    A women seeking an abortion is making a decision because its her choice. My father refusing to perform that abortion is exercising his same choice.

    We are not talking about refusing to perform a life saving procedure. We are talking about refusing to perform an abortion of convenience just because the women wants one.

  • http://www.phoenixgarage.org/ cr0sh

    @rarian rakista

    There’s a difference between being “pro-choice” and “pro-abortion”.

    I sincerely doubt that many people in general are “pro-abortion”. Those who are pro-choice know that sometimes, this is an option that a woman should have, and sometime must have, in order to make proper decisions about her body and her health.

    Regardless, I doubt for most women facing this decision, that its an easy one. Ultimately: Their body. Their choice.

    On the other hand, I would be willing to bet that many “anti-abortion” followers are also “anti-choice”. That is, until it becomes time for them to choose

  • Loki

    I really enjoy being an atheist male nurse (looking for my first job durf durf). Its a wonderful opportunity to give egalitarian care to my fellow humans. It is not difficult to compartmentalize your own personal issues with a client’s particular ideology and the compassion you (should) have for them as a human being. Its baffling that this bitch wouldn’t want to help women going through the abortion process as much as she possibly could, seem’s pretty fucking unchristian to me.

    I’ve cared for racists, bigots, homophobes, glen beck acolytes and more. At the end of the day its the satisfaction of helping others in spite of any of their character traits or ideologies that gives me that warm and fuzzy feeling. Its part of nursing that you do not get to allow whatever judgement you make about that person to affect your care whatsoever. Its just unethical to do so. It sounds like this beezy needs to find another profession, or just become a parish nurse so she can have a religious circlejerk with all her other deluded theists.

  • Ibis

    Robert W.

    1. Racism is not illegal [in the United States].

    2. Abortion is legal [under certain circumstances in the United States].

    3. What is being discussed here is whether or not it should be legal, and whether it is moral, to refuse medical care based on religious grounds.

    4. Your father was a doctor. He has a moral obligation to provide whatever medical care the patient requires, no matter what his personal whims.

    5. In almost every case, abortion is safer than pregnancy. So refusing to provide abortions to women who request them is refusing to perform a potentially life-saving procedure. In many cases, the woman’s life is in imminent danger. Why should your father, or any other doctor, decide to let her die for selfish reasons that have nothing to do with her?

    I might see a compromise with grandfathering out doctors or nurses who started their careers before abortion was legal in the US.* But anyone coming into those professions post Roe v. Wade should expect that the performance of or assisting with abortions is part of the job description.

    *And that would be a severe compromise in my opinion, as I believe that both the professional ethics of physicians/nursing and the US constitution are both on the other side.

  • liz

    i’m laughing at the statement “rasism is illegal”

    If Robert W. IS an American…he’s clearly not a smart one.

  • liz

    damnit…you can’t typo in a post where you call someone else stupid. My bad.

  • Edmond

    Why would anyone have a “religious” objection to abortion? Nowhere in the bible is abortion forbidden.

    The care and handling of menstruating women, however, is given great detail in Leviticus 15, verses 19-30. I’m sure that these nursing applicants are following THOSE rules “religiously”, right?

  • jose

    Robert W,

    Racism is illegal.

    I thought we were talking about religion and morality as reasons to deny women medical care. Turns out we were talking law. Well, I’m glad you implicitly acknowledge that there is no difference in our two cases in terms of morality and faith. Thanks for resorting to law: it shows that your position isn’t more morally sustainable than my cousin’s. By the way, what happens if racism is made legal tomorrow? Would my cousin be doing the right thing then? Of course not. What a silly argument. Law has nothing to do with what we’re talking about.

    We are talking about refusing to perform an abortion of convenience just because the women wants one.

    Irrelevant, because he’s still putting himself above his patients, so the point stands. Besides, so what if it’s not a “life saving procedure”? Tooth filling isn’t life saving either. Does that mean I can deny it whenever I want just by declaring that my faith forbids dental filling? Absurd.

    A doctor should not care about a patient’s reasons. His job is to provide healthcare, and abortion is healthcare. Regardless of her reasons, if a woman wants an abortion (or a latte), then she needs help from a qualified doctor (or from… well you know)

    Again: You see a difference because you think dental filling -or race equality, or whatever analogy I’ll come up with in the next comment- is right, while abortion is wrong. That’s all. Faith-based arbitrary distinctions between different kinds of medical care is what makes your position incoherent and just plain inadequate if you’re in the business of helping people.

    Also, what Ibis said.

  • Yoav

    Robert W. Said

    Racism is illegal. Refusing to perform an abortion for religious or moral grounds isn’t, in fact it was his right.

    Racism used to be legal not that long ago, 50 years ago It used to be legal to refuse service to people because of their race, 150 years ago black people could be traded like cattle. Slavery didn’t became wrong after abolition, it was wrong all along the law just took some time to catch up.
    Miss redacted is applying to the women health program in a medical center in which abortion are preformed she has to be able to deal with any patient she may encounter like any other nurse, if she can’t then she should consider another field other then women health or another hospital. I assume your dad had his own practice and as such could choose which services he provide, however answer me this, if a woman turned up in his clinic in a condition where abortion has to be performed and it is too urgent to have her transferred somewhere else, would he still refuse to do it? If you answer is yes then my answer to the question from your original post is, no, he shouldn’t have been an OB-GYN.

  • Erp

    @Robert W.

    Would your father refuse to perform an abortion even to save the life of the woman? What would he do if he encountered an ectopic pregnancy?

    @Jose, in many cases abortion is admitting a failure. Of birth control (or lack of education or access to good means of birth control), of societal protection (rape), or that a wanted child won’t be born due to dangers to the maternal health or physical defects in the fetus.

  • Loki

    Fetuses are such a buzzkill.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

    If she can’t do her job as a nurse, she shouldn’t be in the program.

  • Disconverted

    “I’m sure [they] can apply to work in a Christian ministry instead. They’re experts at selective compassion; just ask a gay person who wants to get married.”

    Dead on.

  • Defiantnonbeliever

    We would be damned for being literate unless we were of the clergy, for teaching anything not of the ‘good book’ such as the evils of grammar, according to Pope Gregory the ‘Great’, and probably others. This ongoing anti-health misogyny by religion is pathetic.

  • trixr4kids

    Racism is illegal.

    Well, other commenters have jumped on this, so I’ll just chime in and say this is one of the dumbest things Robert W has ever said on this blog. And that’s saying something.

    Robert, fundamentalist apologetics aside, the bible is not anti-abortion. Notice particularly the magical trial-by-ordeal prescribed in Numbers 5:17-31. (Nothin’ like getting your morals from Bronze Age books.)
    http://fayfreethinkers.com/tracts/fetus.shtml

  • Robert W.

    Ibis, Jose,

    A women who decides to have an abortion is deciding to have a voluntary medical procedure. A doctor in a free country has the right to provide or not provide that voluntary medical procedure as part of his practice. Regardless of his reasons. A women may have the right to seek a legal abortion in this country, but she doesn’t have the right to force a doctor to perform it.

    As an example, should all plastic surgeons be forced to do liposuction just because they may have patients that request them?

    Why should a patient be forced to impose their moral or religious beliefs for a voluntary procedure on their physician? For example, what if a lady came to a doctor to have her clitoris removed for religious reasons. Should a doctor be forced to perform that procedure?

    If the life of the mother was at stake and there wasn’t another option I am sure he would do what it took to safe the life of the mother. That would be providing life saving care to the mother and not simply a voluntary procedure that kills the unborn child.

  • Indigo

    Robert W,
    I can’t actually think of a reason a plastic surgeon would refuse to perform liposuction unless it was medically inadvisable. In which case of course he would have good reason to refuse.
    I also can’t think of any doctors in the West who specialise in clitoral removal or anything remotely like it, so pretty much any surgeon would have a perfectly valid point in saying “I don’t perform that procedure”. Moreover, we can go back to considering the procedure medically inadvisable. Having a clitoris is not a health issue, so a doctor is not required to act on it.
    Finally, I personally would say that if your father had a private practice, then he would be justified in not providing abortions. But I think your justification is spurious.

  • ACN
  • Hypatia’s Daughter

    Robert W.
    Would your father have refused to treat me, because he may have had to perform an abortion? Would he refuse to treat a woman with medication that might harm the fetus, such as cancer treatments? Would he refuse to perform surgery to remove an ectopic pregnancy? (That anyone would consider the removal of an ectopic pregnancy an abortion just blows me away. But there are ignorant ass wipes who do.)
    I suspect your dear old Dad performed a lot of procedures that were considered medically & morally acceptable in the past, but are now targeted by the anti-abortion extremist who think they should be illegal.

  • Demonhype

    ACN: Holy shit, that is screwed up!

    But, of course, according to some people here, the dirty whore should just go ahead and die of uterine bleeding (or live with the pain and complications) if she had an abortion. Because it would go against the pharmacist’s “freedom of conscience” to save the life of a dirty filthy whore. Deny it all you like, that is what they are really thinking. And they regard children as a “punishment” for the “sins” of a “whore”–so much for prioritizing the best interests of a child, huh?

    I find it amazing that I can be denied employment because I object to being internally monitored without cause, but these people are able to refuse to perform basic job requirements if they don’t feel like it. My moral objections are just as valid as theirs, if not more. Perhaps if I found some way to tie my moral objections to an invisible man living in the sky and issuing demands, someone might actually listen to me. Hmm…

    Abortion is a “voluntary” procedure, and not necessary? Well, I got news for you. So is going into women’s health, or nursing, or pharmacy, or any particular profession. I find the disparity incredible, since I have a choice to go into a different profession if I don’t like what goes on in that field, but I don’t have a choice about preserving my privacy when employer invasion has taken over in every business. I do not have a choice in this matter because it has been taken away from me no matter what profession I want to enter. This “nurse” does have a choice of whether to enter women’s health services or some other form of nursing wherein she will not have to deal with abortion issues.

    I personally think these people get involved in pharmacy or women’s health nursing or OB/GYN so they can infiltrate it and try to water down women’s rights to choose their own health care and procedures. The same way some creationists putter their way through a biology degree so they can infiltrate science and try to promote creationism using their power of authority.

    I am going into animation. Animation is currently associated with children’s shows. So the likelihood is that I will be involved in producing “family entertainment”, and if I want to work for Disney I might end up working on a princess movie (since they are making a comeback). Let’s say I do not like princesses, esp. Disney princesses. I find them morally objectionable and I feel they are have a negative impact on the developing identity of little girls. That still doesn’t mean that I have a “right” to pick and choose what I’m going to work on if I want to work for Disney (or some comparable company). If you want to go into animation, chances are you will have to work on something princess-related, and chances are you won’t get to work on some hot animated porno or some serious animated rendition of Hamlet. If you don’t like it, don’t work in the field. Just work on your own shit on the side and find a day job.

    Or, like Hoverfrog said, I won’t kill so I have excluded myself from joining the military or law enforcement or security. I do not enter those fields and then dictate what I will and will not do, or tell them, “I find guns morally objectionable, so I feel I should be exempt from handling firearms as a soldier/cop/security guard, though I still feel I should be able to cash the same paycheck at the end of the day.” What would they say to me? Tough luck is what they’d say.

  • AxeGrrl

    Loki wrote:

    At the end of the day its the satisfaction of helping others in spite of any of their character traits or ideologies that gives me that warm and fuzzy feeling. Its part of nursing that you do not get to allow whatever judgement you make about that person to affect your care whatsoever. Its just unethical to do so.

    Really nicely said Loki.

    Sounds like you’re the kind of nurse that any of us would feel lucky to have providing our care.

  • Serenity

    and of course this goes even beyond giving an abortion or counselling someone who has had or is thinking about having one: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/01/13/pharmacists-refusing-to-fill-prescriptions-for-potentially-life-saving-drugs/

  • ACN

    Serenity,

    That is exactly the story I found above. What utter nonsense!

  • stogoe

    They’re also giving the Christians a victory they don’t deserve, but my theory is Vanderbilt just inserted the disclaimer to end the problem, thinking “Who cares? We don’t make them perform an abortion, anyway.”

    This is how bullies win. They make it easier to submit to their whims than to do the right thing in defiance of them. Way to go, bullies who are Christian. Slow clap, everybody. Slow clap.

  • http://krissthesexyatheist.blogspot.com/ krissthesexyatheist

    If atheist/secular nurses and/or students said we will not help xtians, there would be outrage. Good ol’ Christian Privilege, yet again.

  • Robert W.

    Hypatia,

    Based upon what you wrote about your condition I am confident that my dad would have treated you with proper medical care even if that meant terminating your pregnancy if there was no other option. I am also confident that had you come to him with complications arising from an abortion he would provide you with excellent care without making a moral judgment on how you got there.

    As far as cancer treatments, he was not an oncologist so that scenario would not have been his call.

    But neither of those scenarios are the same as a lady coming to him in otherwise good health and with no life saving procedure necessary and asking him to perform an abortion which he believed was taking a life. He wouldn’t do it and I applaud him for it.

    I find it curious that each of you that arguing that he didn’t have the right to make this religious and moral choice for his own business and practice, think that you somehow have the right to force your religious and moral choices upon him just because he is a doctor.

    Don’t confuse providing needed medical care with voluntary abortions . A voluntary abortion is an elective medical procedure.

  • MV

    Robert W:

    I question your moral objection to abortion. What is the actual difference between ending the life of a fetus in an “emergency” and in a “routine” case? And calling abortions elective medical care and not needed medical care is a false dichotomy. Pregancy is hazardous. I could make the case that removing an inflamed appendix or tumor is elective surgery. What is the essential difference, except for your beliefs?

    It seems the objection to abortion is closely tied to misogyny. The idea that women are incubators, that they need to be punished and/or shamed for getting pregnant and that they are not responsible adults. Doctors who have moral objections to procedures due to their religions or beliefs should not positions where that can affect patient care. Objections due to medical facts or human rights are expected and reasonable. There is a difference.

  • Robert W.

    MV,

    I question your moral objection to abortion. What is the actual difference between ending the life of a fetus in an “emergency” and in a “routine” case?

    My moral objection to abortion is because I believe that the unborn child is a human life that deserves protection. I would of course not want to kill an unborn child under any circumstances but would understand it better if there was no other choice in order to save the life of the women in an emergency situation. The fact is that less then 1% of abortions are done for this reason so we can limit our discussions to the 99% or so of the remaining abortions that are done voluntarily.

    Doctors who have moral objections to procedures due to their religions or beliefs should not positions where that can affect patient care. Objections due to medical facts or human rights are expected and reasonable. There is a difference.

    So if a doctor has the moral belief that abortion is killing an unborn child then even in situations where that choice is clearly a voluntary one of the lady and her life is not in immediate risk, (in other words its not one of those less then 1% of abortions where it is done to save the mother’s life) then the Doctor should be forced to give up his own moral and religious beliefs because of her choice or he shouldn’t be a doctor?

  • jose

    the Doctor should be forced to give up his own moral and religious beliefs because of her choice or he shouldn’t be a doctor?

    Exactly. He should give up his personal opinions in order to be able to do his job, and I have already explained why several times. That, of course, includes racist waiters too.

  • Mihangel apYrs

    just a vagrant thought: if a State decides that a foetus is a child, surely it ought to offer the mother (and father) such financial and other benefits from the moment of conception (back-dated if necessary)

    as I said, just a thought, but if the wingnuts force such things through they ought to pay for them…

  • Robert W.

    Jose,

    Exactly. He should give up his personal opinions in order to be able to do his job, and I have already explained why several times. That, of course, includes racist waiters too.

    And I have explained why your reasons are ridiculous. For all the talk on this board about not forcing anyone’s moral beliefs on others, that is exactly what you are requiring here. He can and did perform his job professionally and compassionately for twenty years and brought over 4000 lives into this world without ever taking one by selfish choice. Thank God we don’t live in the land of Jose where we would lose that right.

    As for your racist waiter- not performing his job based upon his beliefs about the color of someone’s skin is far different from a doctor not performing a voluntary medical procedure because he believes that to do so would take another human life. If you don’t see the difference in that then you are intentionally being ignorant or blind

  • TheG

    Loki, stick with it! It took me forever to get my first real job as a nurse. The market is not what the papers and public believe it to be. We need more like you in the profession and less like this Vanderbilt wannabe that doesn’t have a clue what it takes to be compassionate in the real world, much less our chosen profession.

  • jose

    For all the talk on this board about not forcing anyone’s moral beliefs on others, that is exactly what you are requiring here.

    I’m not forcing you to do something. You chose to be a doctor, and then you don’t want to do what doctors do. Dude *you chose it*. I didn’t forced you to study medicine. It’s in your job description. You accepted your job description, didn’t you? Then do your job or get yourself another job. Simple as that.

    I’m a cable news host, but I refuse to talk about the news.
    I’m a baker, but I won’t make bread.

    Get it?

    He can and did perform his job professionally

    No he didn’t. He refused to do something that was part of his job -because it was part of his job, something you wish weren’t true, but it is nonetheless- and a lot of women suffered because of it.

    Thank God we don’t live in the land of Jose where we would lose that right.

    I live in a land where people are required to do their jobs. Sounds *insane*, right? hehe. By the way, didn’t you hear yet? God doesn’t exist.

    is far different from a doctor not performing a voluntary medical procedure because he believes that to do so would take another human life.

    Irrelevant, because he’s still putting himself above his patients, so the point stands. Anyway, maybe I wasn’t clear enough in the last comments: Your beliefs don’t matter. Got it? They don’t matter. As I said, he chose to be a doctor. Choices have consequences. If he can’t be a doctor, then he shouldn’t be. If you think doctors kill “innocent babies”, then don’t get a job as a doctor. Your father was negligent and irresponsible, and each refusal produced a lot of suffering in helpless women.

    Now you’re calling those women “selfish”. Disgusting.

  • Robert W.

    Jose,

    I have been respectful during our discussions, but I must say this last post tried my patience to stay that way.

    Your analogy is flawed for the reasons I stated as is your job description of an ob-gyn. The standard of care for an ob-gyn simply doesn’t include a requirement that the doctor perform a voluntary abortion. I know because I am a lawyer that practices medical malpractice cases.

    A free market economy and the medical profession itself allows for a doctor to make this moral decision. There are plenty of other doctors that would make a different one so these women were not denied medical care.

  • jose

    Ah, yes, I forgot: We were talking about law here. Yeah.

  • Robert W.

    Jose,

    Your last post was describing the law- negligence and standard of care. Morally it is a valid decision as well.

  • Mihangel apYrs

    Robert W: this is not an attack, and I am not impugning your father’s integrity, but there are occasions when babies are born so deformed that they may die in a short time, in pain, or so damaged that there is no chance of a meaningful life (anencephalic for example). Those that are born alive were in the past euthenased by the dilivering doctor or midwife. Can you be certain your father’s compassion never helped such a child on its way?

    I ask to focus your mind: this isn’t a subject of absolutes, and we have explore the extremes so we can honestly defend our case

    regards

  • Robert W.

    Mihangel,

    although we have never discussed it directly, based upon everything I know about my father I would say he never did this. For one, it would be against all of his moral and religious convictions which I have seen first hand as he cares for orphans in Africa, even those with severe handicaps. Additionally, it would be considered murder and against the law. I am confident that he would hand the child over to neonatal pediatricians to take care of after it was delivered.

    Even as an extreme case, I don’t think we have the right to take a life. If you are going to do it for small children whose quality of life we deem not meaningful, why not with the elderly or handicapped adults? It is a scary proposition that it is morally right to end a life based upon another person’s view of what is a meaningful life.


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