Pro-Life Student Files Civil Rights Complaint Against Vanderbilt

A pro-life student is bring a civil rights complaint against Vanderbilt University’s nursing program with the help of Alliance Defense Fund (ADL), a Christian legal group.

The anonymous fourth-year student, who is hoping to apply to Vanderbilt’s nurse residency program, must promise to participate in abortions as part of the admissions process.

The Christian Post reports that according to Vanderbilt’s nurse residency application, chosen nurse residents must “care for women undergoing termination of pregnancy. Procedures performed in the Labor and Delivery unit include … terminations of pregnancy ….”

The application encourages those not willing to participate in abortions to look into other programs, saying “If you feel you cannot provide care to women during this type of event, we encourage you to apply to a different track of the Nurse Residency Program to explore opportunities that may best fit your skills and career goals.”

ADL Legal Counsel Matt Bowman asserts that the student is protected under a law enacted during President George W. Bush’s tenure which allows medical personnel to refuse to perform a medical procedure on the grounds of moral conscience. Says Bowman, “Federal law protects them from being required to kill the helpless.”

As David French of National Review observes, the so-called Church Amendment “bars discrimination against any ‘applicant’ for residency programs who are unwilling to ‘in any way participate in the performance of abortions.'”

Bowman believes that the law is clear, and the student’s moral conscience cannot and should not be violated. “Christians and other pro-life members of the medical community shouldn’t be forced to participate in abortions to pursue their profession,” said Bowman.

ADF and the student have completed a Civil Rights Discrimination Complaint, citing religious grounds, and have sent it to the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights.

The student and ADF are hoping that HHS acts quickly, as the deadline for residency applications is January 28th. Despite the student’s trouble with the school, she still hopes to enroll in the program, without having her conscience violated.

The Vanderbilt University Medical Center has responded through their spokesman, John Howser, who says that the acknowledgement simply informs students that they will be asked to provide care for women seeking, or who have had, abortions. Howser notes that “It does not say that you are required to participate in performing or in the performance of terminations.”

Hopefully Howser is telling the truth, and the anonymous student will be able to gain admission without having her conscience rights violated. If Vanderbilt is serious, they should make it clear that students applying for admission into the residency nursing program will not be required, under any circumstances, to participate in an abortion procedure. And hopefully, we will soon see a day where no one is forced to go through the pain of an abortion, whether it be the unborn child, the mother, the nurses, or the abortionist. As Abby Johnson has reminded us with her new book, abortion affects everyone involved.

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