Trump Administration Stands Up for Nurse Forced to Assist an Abortion

August 28, 2019
CONTACT: Mallory Quigley, [email protected]
Katey Price, [email protected]

President Trump & HHS Secretary Azar Lead the Charge to Enforce Federal Law Protecting Conscience Rights

Washington, D.C.  – Today the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced it is taking steps to bring University of Vermont Medical Center into compliance with federal law in the case of a nurse who was forced to assist in an elective abortion.

The national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) praised the administration in a statement:

“Abortion is not health care and we are thankful to President Trump and HHS Secretary Azar for leading the charge to protect conscience rights,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “When the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division of the Office of Civil Rights was established at HHS last year, it showed the Trump administration is serious about investigating and addressing conscience violations. This is sadly not the first time a pro-life doctor or nurse has been forced to participate in the destruction of an innocent human life – like Cathy DeCarlo, who was threatened with the loss of her job if she did not assist in a late-term abortion and spent years fighting for justice.

“As some states attempt to expand abortion on demand through birth, with no conscience protections whatsoever, it’s more important than ever for pro-life health care professionals and institutions to know they are not alone in their fight against discrimination. We thank President Trump and Secretary Azar for continually standing up for them. Once again, we urge Congress to enact a private right of action so victims can seek relief in court in the future, no matter who holds power in Washington.”

Sharon MacKinnon, a family nurse practitioner with 25 years serving predominantly low-income patients, and an associate scholar with SBA List’s research arm Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI), added:

“Doctors and nurses should never be forced to choose between risking their jobs or violating the dictates of their consciences in assisting or performing an abortion. The convictions that stop me from assisting in abortion – the taking of an innocent human life – are the same convictions of compassion and care for the most vulnerable that drew me to the nursing profession in the first place. I’m grateful the law has been rightly enforced in this instance, as it should be in all cases, so that what happened to this nurse never happens to another medical provider.”

The Church Amendment, federal law enacted in the 1970s after the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton Supreme Court rulings, prohibits hospitals funded by the Public Health Service Act from discriminating against doctors and nurses who refuse to participate in abortion. The Church Amendment protects abortion-related conscience rights of both individuals and institutions. For more information, see CLI’s special report “Unconscionable: Threats to Religious Freedom and Rights of Conscience in the Abortion Debate.”

SBA List is a network of more than 787,000 pro-life Americans nationwide, dedicated to ending abortion by electing national leaders and advocating for laws that save lives, with a special calling to promote pro-life women leaders. 

Charlotte Lozier Institute was launched in 2011 as the education and research arm of Susan B. Anthony List. CLI is a hub for research and public policy analysis on some of the most pressing issues facing the United States and nations around the world. The Institute is named for a feminist physician known for her commitment to the sanctity of human life and equal career and educational opportunities for women.  The 175th anniversary of Dr. Charlotte Denman Lozier’s birth occurred on March 16, 2019.


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