HHS Accuses Vermont Hospital of Forcing Nurse to Assist in Abortions

On Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through its Office of Civil Rights (OCR), announced that it put the University of Vermont Medical Center on notice after nurses reported that they were forced to assist in abortions against their objections. In one case, a nurse alleges that she was scheduled to assist with a procedure she thought was related to a miscarriage. However, when she arrived, she was told by a doctor that she would be assisting in an abortion. The nurse, who had made her objections to assisting with abortions known, asked for a replacement, which was denied. After feeling pressured, she ultimately helped with the abortion. 

According to HHS, although the hospital's procedures allow for some accommodation for moral objections, its policy mandates that employees assist in abortions. Such a policy violates the "Church Amendments," which were enacted in the 1970s to protect the conscience rights of healthcare workers. The medical center now has 30 days to notify OCR of its intention to bring its personnel rules into compliance. If the hospital fails to do so, it could lose a portion of its federal funding. To see the Vermont Medical Center Notice of Violation or read more about the work of the OCR, please visit the HHS website

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop Robert J. McManus of Worcester, Chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, issued a joint statement praising the enforcement action. "We commend and thank the Administration for taking corrective action to enforce the law. Sadly, such violations of federal conscience laws are not infrequent. We hope that today's action, and future actions by this Administration, will help ensure that no one is forced to participate in an abortion against their beliefs." To read the full statement from Archbishop Naumann and Bishop McManus, please visit the USCCB website.

August 30, 2019 - 2:06pm

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