Biden Administration Drops Lawsuit Protecting Pro-Life Nurses

The Biden Administration took a little discussed but significant action this month in dropping a lawsuit against the University of Vermont Medical Center for allegedly forcing pro-life nurses to participate in abortions. It is not clear if the Biden Administration believes that pro-life nurses can be forced to participate in procedures that they consider to be immoral. However, it is clear that they are not willing to protect those religious views in this important action despite the faith-based claims under federal law. Indeed, the nurse believed the procedure constitute murder of the unborn and the Trump Administration agreed that she should be able to decline.

According to the prior findings letter,  the medical center refused the request of the nurse to excuse herself from the abortion procedure. Other nurses were all allegedly forced to help despite such objections. There was no evidence that the Center could not accommodate the religious objectors by using other nurses.

During the Trump Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)  asked the DOJ to investigate the matter as a civil rights violation. However, Biden Secretary Xavier Becerra asked for the investigation and lawsuit to be terminated.

The HHS told Fox News:

After a detailed evaluation of the underlying legal theory used to issue a referral to the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services withdrew the original referral and requested DOJ dismiss the suit against the University of Vermont Medical Center, a request which was granted.

In line with this, HHS removed the Notice of Violation issued against UVMCC last Friday. HHS continues to evaluate the underlying facts of the matter and notified all the parties about its actions last Friday.

That says virtually nothing. It is particularly glaring in light of the prior findings. The prior Administration found:

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.

The prior referral was based on the view that this violated the the Church Amendments by forcing employees to participate in abortions against their moral or religious objections. 42 U.S.C. § 300a-7(c)(1) of the Church Amendments which state:

“(c)Discrimination prohibition

(1)No entity which receives a grant, contract, loan, or loan guarantee under the Public Health Service Act [42 U.S.C. 201 et seq.], the Community Mental Health Centers Act [42 U.S.C. 2689 et seq.], or the Developmental Disabilities Services and Facilities Construction Act [42 U.S.C. 6000 et seq.] after June 18, 1973, may—

(A) discriminate in the employment, promotion, or termination of employment of any physician or other health care personnel, or

(B) discriminate in the extension of staff or other privileges to any physician or other health care personnel, because he performed or assisted in the performance of a lawful sterilization procedure or abortion, because he refused to perform or assist in the performance of such a procedure or abortion on the grounds that his performance or assistance in the performance of the procedure or abortion would be contrary to his religious beliefs or moral convictions, or because of his religious beliefs or moral convictions respecting sterilization procedures or abortions.”

The Center received $1.6 million in federal aide in the prior three years.

HHS did not explain the basis for the withdrawal and just said it was “continuing to evaluate” the situation. The Biden Administration needs to be more clear on the government’s positions on religious objections. These nurses deserve better than a perfunctory, conclusory statement when they feel they are being forced to choose between the jobs and their faith.

What is interesting is that the Biden Administration is planning on the controversial step withholding federal funds from hospitals and other institutions that do not impose a mandatory vaccine requirement. However, it is dropping an enforcement action to withhold funds to protect religious objections to participating in abortions.


122 thoughts on “Biden Administration Drops Lawsuit Protecting Pro-Life Nurses”

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  2. Olly says:

    “I have been on this legal blog for almost a decade and was disappointed to find a fair number of members don’t believe in our natural, unalienable rights. It’s kind of difficult to have any agreement on what our government should be doing when we don’t agree on the fundamental reason it exists.”

    I don’t believe in so-called “natural god-given rights” because I don’t disbelieve science. Had those 18th Century Framers knew then what humankind knows now about the Big Bang origins of the universe and the evolution mankind, those brilliant men of the Enlightenment and Science would have had no reason to rely upon the Bronze Age myth of Genesis as a credible explanation of their existence.

    We have human rights no thanks to gods but to the accumulated reason of man.

    1. Jeff:

      Nazi scientists and doctors who experimented on Jews and political prisoners in concentration camps were learned men. They had reason. Power and the accumulation of scientific knowledge were their motivators.

      What they lacked was morality.

      1. Karen,

        I presume that your point is that men of reason can be immoral. Wow! What a revelation! And I suppose the corollary is that without gods there is no morality? You should have taken a course in Moral Philosophy in college. You would have learned that there are moral codes in addition to the Ten Commandments (she certainly chose a convenient number as opposed to 9 or 11!)

        Here is a question for you which I doubt you will answer: Without god, there is no morality, and man has no good reason to behave?

        You might be interested to learn that the German regular soldier had this inscription on his belt-buckle: “Gott mit uns” (‘God with us’). The more fanatical members of the Waffen SS wore the motto “Meine Ehre heißt Treue” (‘My honor is loyalty’), a motto which would serve Trumpism just perfectly!

        1. Morality is something to be considered, but in your case, reason is also an open question. You can have one or the other. The other choice is neither.

  3. One should understand the history of acceptance of abortion in the U.S. First no abortions after three months. Next no abortions after six months. Now the baby has been born and we will keep it comfortable until we decide if it should live or die. I once saw a film clip. A man and a baby were in a Jungle. The baby was crying so the man picked it up by it’s feet and slung it’s head into a tree. You see, the baby had become an inconvenience. Simply another occurrence in the law of the jungle by the uncivilized.

    1. A nominally “secular”, ethical (i.e. relativistic) religion that denies women and men’s dignity and agency, and reduces human life to a negotiable property for social progress, medical progress, and carbon neutrality. With diverse (i.e. number and class) precedents, a progressive path and grade.

  4. This move by the politicized legal arm under Baccterria…. does not fit the woke prog agenda/narrative of the handlers managing our goobermint from the shadows. And yes it’s from the shadows as lord knows senile baizou biden can’t even eat ice cream and have a cogent thought let alone verbalize one,

  5. I use to practice nursing and accommodation was the norm. So too was the practice of finding ways to cut payroll costs by eliminating nurses with longevity,higher pay and vacation days

  6. One would think that the ‘my body, my choice’ groups that demand elective abortions as a woman’s personal choice would be up in arms knowing that other women are being forced to perform abortions against their will.

    1. Well, one would think the “my body, my choice” folks would be up in arms about mandated vaccinations too. Apparently, their principles are merely situational.

      We’ve arranged a society on science and technology in which nobody understands anything about science and technology, and this combustible mixture of ignorance and power sooner or later is going to blow up in our faces. I mean, who is running the science and technology in a democracy if the people don’t know anything about it? – Carl Sagan

  7. I am glad you mentioned “the Biden administration” instead of “President Biden.” He has anywhere from one to three items on his agenda each day doing basically nothing except giving a statement or what he is told to do. Never in our history has a President had such a ridiculous schedule. He cannot complete a cohesive thought nor could he answer a real question from a real reporter.

    When he does pick the reporters who are on his approved list, he generally has to read the answer. The press and corporate media covers for him and reporters have to do what they are told. Pitch him softballs and for goodness sakes don’t follow up with hard questions. I would love to see him face real scrutiny, the kind all politicians should face. They should be raked across the coals. They wanted the job, then they should face the hungry lions. Watch British parliament. Their debates are blood sport.

    So, who is really calling the shots? What is their ultimate agenda? There is something deeper going on. The constant barrage of confusion in my opinion is a smokescreen.

    1. EM:

      Oh, I love a good row in BP. Poor John Bercow was hard pressed to keep “ooooooorrrrrrrddddder!”

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