Vanderbilt University Forced to Uphold Nursing Students' Right of Conscience reports that, in January, Vanderbilt University, located in Nashville, TN, changed its policy of requiring applicants to the Nurse Residency Program to pledge to “to care for women undergoing termination of pregnancy. Procedures performed in the Labor and Delivery unit include…terminations of pregnancy.”

Previously, the application continued by stating, “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.”

The problem with the university requiring applicants to pledge to assist in such a procedure is that it is a recipient of more than $300 million in annual federal funding. Federal law prohibits such recipients from requiring students and/or medical workers to participate in abortions even if their religious or moral convictions would be violated.

Immediately following a complaint filed with the Department of Health and Human Services by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) on behalf of two potential applicants, Vanderbilt denied that the application forced applicants to make a pledge to participate in abortions.

However, by the next day, the university had rewritten the offending section to read, ““While Vanderbilt expects all health care providers, including nurses who participate in the Nurse Residency Program’s Women’s Health Track, to provide compassionate care to all patients, no health care provider is required to participate in a procedure terminating a pregnancy if such participation would be contrary to an individual’s religious beliefs or moral convictions.”

ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman summed up the situation well by noting, “Christians and other pro-life members of the medical community shouldn’t be forced to participate in abortions to pursue their profession. That’s what federal law says, and that’s why Vanderbilt is doing the right thing in changing its policy and application.”

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