Nurse Who Won’t Prescribe the Pill Sues Clinic for Not Hiring Her.


This  is the story that irony built.

It seems that Sara Hellwege is a nurse-midwife in Tampa, FL. She applied for a job at Tampa Family Health Centers. In an email exchange Tampa Family Health Center’s HR director, Chad Lindsey, quizzed her about her affiliation with the American Association of Pro Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Ms Hellwege said that she would not prescribe chemical birth control. She was told that this was part of the job. They didn’t hire her.

Case closed.

Or, case not closed, as it turns out. Ms Hellwege has filed suit.

And I can’t stop laughing.

We’ve been peppered with one idiot lawsuit after another by people demanding that the courts force Catholic organizations, particularly schools, to employee them while they get gay married in defiance of Catholic teaching.

Anyone who objects to one of these lawsuits is treated to an arm-waving smack-down with words like ,  “tolerance” and “rights” flying through the air like bullets.

Now, it seems, the shoe is on the other foot.

Google gave me a whole page of links on this lawsuit. The most apoplectic commentary I saw was coming from the same folks who are soooo supportive of every lawsuit filed to force the Catholic Church to violate its beliefs.

Several posts I read tried to claim that the lawsuit is based on the Hobby Lobby decision. Unless Ms Hellwege is a privately-held corporation who is being forced by the HHS Mandate to buy insurance that pays for four kinds of abortifacient, the Hobby Lobby decision has nothing to do with her.

Having said all that, I don’t really have any quarrel with these opinion pieces. They are, after all, opinions. 

I just can’t stop laughing.

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  • Manny

    I’m not sure what your position is on this, Rebecca, but I don’t support Sara Hellwege on this. The pills are legal and the clinic made it clear that it was part of the job description to prescribe them if necessary. Hellwege shouldn’t have a basis for a lawsuit.

    • hamiltonr

      I don’t know enough about it to have an opinion Manny. But I do see it as people being gored by their own ox. That’s rich.

  • AnneG

    At first I thought, why would she want to work there. I think that would be a normal attitude. But, the situation is not normal, so this might just be a normal response to a deranged situation. I didn’t see this. It really is funny. Hope she wins.

  • Sus_1

    I have a few thoughts about this.

    1. The medical clinic missed an opportunity. They could have had this woman become the clinic’s NFP expert.

    2. If they hired her and she has a patient that wants the pill, why couldn’t she send someone else to the patient to deal with it?

    3. If she works at a place that prescribes the pill, is that condoning
    or celebrating something (the pill) the same way bakers say it is if
    they bake the cake for a gay wedding?

    4. The clinic doesn’t only see women who are seeking birth control.
    Why not hire her for the people who aren’t seeking the pill?

    • FW Ken

      1. Good point, but I don’t think standard medicine recognizes the value of NFP.

      2 and 4 – current ideology requires total compliance. Every pharmacist must fill every prescription, for example.

      3 – prescribing a contraceptive is more like baking the cake, not working in the bakery.

      Reasonable ideas, but we don’t live in a reasonable time.

      • Keary McHugh

        I cannot speak for medical school, but I do know that we covered NFP in nursing school as a perfectly acceptable alternative to contraceptives. Since I have never worked in a ob/gyn clinic, I cannot say how it is actually viewed in practice.

        • Rebecca Fuentes

          In my (admittedly limited) experience, the pill is pushed to any woman over 18, and it can take some pushing back to convince the doctor or nurse that you don’t need or want them. In college, every girl I knew, even if she wasn’t sexually active and had go to the student clinic for something unrelated (sprained wrist, sinus infection) was asked if she was on the pill and pressured to get the pill if she wasn’t. It wasn’t much better out of college. When I have to meet a new doctor, I just start with the, “I don’t use artificial birth control, I’m not going to sterilize myself or my husband, we chart our fertility, it works. Don’t offer me the pill or an IUD or a tubal or I find another doctor.”
          I’m lucky now to have a doctor who is also a member of our parish.

  • S.A. Sebastian Gnolfo

    I’m not sure how you can equate these situations equally. If a person cannot or refuses to perform the duties of a job they should not get that job.

    In the one case, the woman said she could not perform the job because of her faith. So, she does’t get the job. If someone with the same faith applied for the job, was equally qualified, and could do the job, that person would have gotten the job. Simple. No discrimination here.

    In the other cases, a gay person is qualified for a job, is willing to do the job, and is the best person for the job, but not hired because of being gay. Simple. Discrimination. If a person is employed, qualified for the job, doing well and succeeding at the job, has done nothing to harm the value and reputation of the company, that person should remain employed. If that person is fired for being gay and not for their performance, that is discrimination.

    Suing someone for not hiring you to do a job you refuse to do is frivolous.

    • oregon nurse

      Not so fast! Did you even read the email chain and lawsuit? Religious beliefs are protected from discrimination by employers. After HR accepted her application and resume for review, the employer clearly refused to even allow her an interview based only on her religious beliefs and membership in a pro-life organization. There was absolutely no attempt made to explore the issue with her to see if her beliefs could be accommodated. Prescribing chemical birth control is only part of the job and maybe not even a large part. The lawsuit lists a number of laws that prohibit religious discrimination by such an employer.

      I think she has a good case if she has a thick enough skin to accept a job with an employer who will no doubt be hostile. When I was starting out in nursing many years ago they were just beginning to do legal abortions. I loved labor and delivery and wanted to make that my specialty except when, as a student, I was asked to assist with a late-term saline abortion where the child is killed by literally burning away it’s skin and bursting it’s cells in utero. I was appalled and asked my instructor to reassign me. I knew I could never work in such an environment. There were no conscientious objection laws yet and even if there had been I knew I didn’t want to have to potentially fight my employer my whole career so I gave up my dream of being an OB nurse. Any nurse who is willing to fight against having to cooperate with anything that can lead to abortion just to work in OB is my hero and I hope she wins this.

  • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

    If it never was pushed, was it because you did not need pushing? Have you made the experiment of saying “no” and seeing how the doctors reacted?

    • pagansister

      Yup. And the doctor said “OK”.