***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.
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)