U Vermont in hot water with HHS after allegedly forcing student nurse to aid with abortion

The Department of Health and Human Services has given the school 30 days to change a policy it suggests was involved in the scandal.

The University of Vermont Medical Center allegedly required a student nurse to assist with abortions, even after the nurse objected several times.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared Wednesday that the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMMC) violated the law by allegedly requiring a nurse to perform an abortion. 

The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) conducted a “thorough investigation” and stated that the policy requirement discriminates against employees who have explicitly objected to performing abortions for moral or religious reasons by compelling them to do so unless they would like to risk discipline, according to a news release.

Since it receives federal funding, OCR also notified UVMMC to adjust its policies to conform with 42 U.S.C. § 300a-7, known as the “Church Amendments,” or risk action from HHS. UVMMC has 30 days to announce whether it will cooperate with OCR. 

OCR’s investigation stems from a May 2018 “conscience and religious discrimination” complaint filed by the UVMMC nurse. At the time, OCR claimed it sought information and documents related to the incident from UVMMC, which the hospital refused to supply. 

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OCR concluded that not only was the nurse forced to assist in the abortion, but that the nurse had repeatedly objected for many years and that the objections had been previously documented.

UVMMC has denied the allegations, and maintains the nurse’s claims are false. 

“We do not discriminate against any employees for exercising their rights to opt out of procedures to which they object,” Anne Mackin, a UVMMC communications official, told CNN. 

In a statement, OCR Director Roger Severino said the UVMMC policies were not only a violation of federal law, but were also “unnecessary and wrong.” 

“Forcing medical staff to assist in the taking of human life inflicts a moral injury on them that is not only unnecessary and wrong; it violates longstanding federal law,” Severino said. “Our investigation has uncovered serious discrimination by UVMMC against nurses and staff who cannot, in good conscience, assist in elective abortions.”

[RELATED: Emory University hosts ‘abortion as a moral good’ lecture]

In a statement to Campus Reform, Students for Life chief media strategist Kristi Hamrick praised the Trump administration for defending pro-lifers and their right to object from aiding abortions.  

”The abortion industry has shown their radical commitment to ending life by moving from ‘choice’ to coercion in their policy demands,” Hamrick said. “The Constitution promises to us all conscience rights, meaning that we should not be forced to act against our beliefs.”

“But for those committed to abortion, forcing others to act in support of their agenda or face fines or job loss or worse is a pattern we again and again,” she continued. “Whether it’s this nurse in Vermont or the Little Sisters of the Poor, brave people have been targeted by abortion advocates. Students for Life applauds the Trump Administration for standing up for those who don’t want to participate in the atrocity of abortion.” 

Campus Reform reached out to UVMMC, but received no response in time for press. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @eduneret