By Guy Page
The University of Vermont Medical Center deceptively and unlawfully forced a known pro-life nurse to participate in an abortion procedure, the Office of Civil Rights for the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services reported today.
The state’s largest hospital risks losing federal funding if it fails to take corrective action, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) said.
The report finds that UVMMC violated federal law by “by forcing a nurse to assist in an elective abortion procedure over the nurse’s conscience-based objections.” OCR “also found that UVMMC has discriminatory policies that assign or require employees to assist abortion procedures even after they have recorded their religious or moral objections to assisting in the performance of such abortions.”
Furthermore, UVMMC apparently failed to cooperate with the federal investigation that began after the nurse complained of discrimination in May, 2018: “As part of its investigation, OCR contacted UVMMC repeatedly in a good faith effort to seek cooperation from UVMMC, but the hospital refused to conform its policies to federal conscience laws, provide all the documents requested by OCR, or produce witnesses for OCR interviews.”
OCR’s Notice of Violation letter asks UVMMC to conform its policies to the Church Amendments and take other corrective action, “or face potential action by the HHS component from which UVMMC has received federal funding.”
According to OCR, here’s how the violation took place:
“UVMMC forced the nurse complainant to assist in an abortion against the nurse’s religious or moral objection. The nurse had expressed an objection for many years and was included in a list of objectors, but UVMMC knowingly assigned the nurse to an abortion procedure. The nurse was not told the procedure was an abortion until the nurse walked into the room, when the doctor—knowing the nurse objected to assisting in abortions—told the nurse, “Don’t hate me.” The nurse again objected, and other staff were present who could have taken the nurse’s place, but the nurse was required to assist with the abortion anyway. If the nurse had not done so, the nurse reasonably feared UVMMC would fire or report the nurse to licensing authorities.”
This was not an isolated incident of deceit and discrimination, OCR reported:
“OCR spoke with several other UVMMC health care personnel who, since at least the spring of 2017, have been intentionally, unnecessarily, and knowingly scheduled by UVMMC to assist with elective abortions against their religious or moral objections. Such personnel were often not told in advance that the procedures they were being assigned to assist with were abortions.”
To read the entire OCR press release on the Notice of Violation, click here. UVMMC has promised to comment on the OCR Notice of Violation by later today, according to a Vermont Public Radio report. It has been performing elective abortions since 2017.
Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.