News Releases: 2002
State Agrees To Provide Religious
Accommodation For Nurse After Discrimination Complaint Filed
October 28, 2002
(New Orleans, LA) - The American Center for Law and
Justice, an international public interest law firm committed
to protecting life, announced today that the Louisiana
Department of Health and Hospitals has reversed itself and
has now agreed to stop discriminating against a public
health nurse from New Orleans who was threatened with
termination for refusing to dispense pregnancy-ending
medication - a job requirement that violates her deeply held
The move comes less than one week after the ACLJ filed formal complaints
with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Louisiana
Commission on Human Rights contending that Louisiana Dept. of Health and
Hospitals is discriminating against the nurse because of her religious
"We're delighted that the religious beliefs of our client will now be
accommodated in the workplace," said Stuart J. Roth, Senior Counsel of the
ACLJ, which is representing the nurse. "From the beginning, our client just
wanted to do her job without violating her conscience and her religious
beliefs. Unfortunately, it took formal action on our behalf and publicity
about the case before the state agreed to do what it should have done all
along - stop threatening and criticizing our client and permit her to work
without violating her religious beliefs.
Last week, the ACLJ filed complaints with the EEOC and the Louisiana
Commission on Human Rights on behalf of Cynthia Day of Marrero, Louisiana
who is employed as a Public Health Nurse III with the Louisiana Department
of Health and Hospitals, Office of Public Health at a clinic in New Orleans.
The complaints contend that Day repeatedly told her supervisors that she
could not dispense what is known as an emergency contraception pill, also
known as a "morning-after" pill - medication designed to end pregnancies.
Day says she holds a sincere religious belief that human life, beginning at
fertilization, is sacred and cannot be harmed in any way.
But instead of accommodating her beliefs, the complaints contend that Day
was criticized for her beliefs and threatened with being fired. In fact, as
the complaints were being filed last week, Day received a disciplinary
letter from her employer - a letter proposing a five-day suspension without
pay for insubordination.
Then, within days of filing the complaints and following publicity about
the case, Day received a letter from Madeline W. McAndrew, Assistant
Secretary of the Dept. of Health and Hospitals. In the letter dated October
25th, McAndrew said the Health Department "is rescinding the proposed action
and will accommodate your request based on religious and moral grounds."
McAndrew told Day that she instructed officials to "immediately remove you
from any duties that require you to discuss or provide the emergency
contraception pill." At the same time, McAndrew stated that a listing of
"reassignment opportunities" will be made available to Day "for future
permanent duty assignments to accommodate your request â€¦"
"We plan to withdraw the complaints filed with the EEOC and with the
Louisiana Commission on Human Rights when our client receives the
accommodation," said Roth. "We will continue to work with our client to
ensure that her religious beliefs are accommodated and monitor the ongoing
employment status very closely to make sure she is not discriminated against
in the workplace."
"This is a very important victory in one of the fastest growing areas of
pro-life litigation - protecting the conscience rights of health care
workers," said Roth.
The resolution of the Louisiana case comes on the heels of a major
federal court decision in California. In May 2002, the ACLJ successfully
convinced a jury that Riverside County violated the constitutional rights of
a former nurse who was fired from her job for refusing to dispense
"morning-after" medication. A federal court jury found that the county
violated her First Amendment rights of free speech, freedom of religion, and
failed to reasonably accommodate her religious beliefs. Damages in that case
- including a jury award and attorney's fees - totaled $100,000.
Center for Law and Justice is an international public
interest law firm specializing in constitutional law and
protecting human life. The ACLJ is headquartered in Virginia
Beach, Virginia, USA.
October 23, 2002
Orleans, LA) - The American Center for Law and Justice, an international
public interest law firm committed to protecting life, today announced
it is representing a nurse from Louisiana who has been threatened with
termination for refusing to dispense pregnancy-ending medication - a
requirement that violates her deeply held religious beliefs. The ACLJ
has filed a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (EEOC) and the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights
contending that the employer - Louisiana Dept. of Health and Hospitals -
is discriminating against the nurse because of her religious beliefs.
"This is a case where a nurse is facing
religious discrimination because her deeply held beliefs do not permit
her to dispense medication designed to end pregnancies," said Stuart J.
Roth, Senior Counsel of the ACLJ, which is representing the health care
"Our client just wants to do her job without violating her conscience
and her religious beliefs. Instead of accommodating this employee,
health department officials have decided to criticize her and threaten
her with termination. We will do whatever it takes to protect the
conscience rights of our client."
The ACLJ filed the complaints this week
with the EEOC and the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights on behalf of
Cynthia Day of Marrero, Louisiana who is employed as a Public Health
Nurse III with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, Office
of Public Health at a clinic in New Orleans.
The complaints contend that Day
repeatedly told her supervisors that she could not dispense what is
known as an emergency contraception pill, also known as a
"morning-after" pill - medication designed to end pregnancies. Day says
she holds a sincere religious belief that human life, beginning at
fertilization, is sacred and cannot be harmed in any way. Day contends
that she has been criticized for her beliefs, threatened with being
fired, and transferred to a job that makes it much more likely that she
will have to dispense the objectionable medication to patients.
"The state must accommodate the
sincerely held religious beliefs of our client," said Roth. "There is no
question that the health department could have another employee dispense
the medication instead of our client. But, health department officials
have not only rejected our request to accommodate our client's religious
beliefs, they continue to threaten and intimidate this health care
professional in a manner that is both unprofessional and unlawful."
Roth said the ACLJ was required to file
formal complaints first with the EEOC and the Louisiana Commission on
Human Rights before proceeding with filing a lawsuit against the health
department. Roth said the ACLJ is prepared to take legal action to
protect the conscience rights of Day.
In May 2002, the ACLJ successfully
convinced a California jury that Riverside County violated the
constitutional rights of a former nurse who was fired from her job for
refusing to dispense "morning-after" medication. A federal court jury
found that the county violated her First Amendment rights of free
speech, freedom of religion, and failed to reasonably accommodate her
religious beliefs. Damages in that case - including a jury award and
attorney's fees - totaled $100,000.
The American Center for Law and Justice
is an international public interest law firm specializing in
constitutional law and protecting human life. The ACLJ is headquartered
in Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA.
Crisis at Philadelphia Hospital
Highlights The Violation Of Women's Rights
Due To Mismanagement Of Our Health System
EMBARGO: Immediate Release
Date: 26 June 2002
Doctors For Life (DFL), an organisation of
about 770 doctors, places the blame for the lack of staff to support women
having abortions at Philadelphia hospital, squarely on the shoulders of
the South African government. Before the government bulldozed the law to
legalise abortion on demand through Parliament, DFL warned via numerous
press releases that the infrastructure to implement the law does not
Firstly, there were not enough doctors and nursing staff who did not
have conscientious objection against assisting with abortions. The
government ignored us even when this fact was repeated in our submissions
before the Select Committee on Abortion in Parliament.
Secondly, the lack of sonographic equipment to determine the
gestational age of the unborn baby before an abortion made a mockery of
the legislation (the law allowed abortion for a certain gestational age
for different reasons).
The biggest survey ever done amongst
doctors showed that more than 80% of South African doctors are against
abortion on demand. The government was fully aware of this attitude when
they forced the members of the ANC to vote against their consciences in
support of "Termination of Pregnancy". They should therefore not be
surprised when only 5 of the 27 hospitals in Mpumalanga have staff who are
willing to take part in abortions.
In what appears to be a hypocritical move,
the government seems concerned when women in the Carte Blanche programme
had to deliver their own aborted babies, while the Department of Health is
busy introducing the abortion pill (RU486) which will have the same result
of causing women to abort at home.
DFL also had special meetings with the
Health Professionals Council of South Africa where we explained the
dilemma of pro-life health professionals. We mentioned that it strikes us
as unethical that some health professionals are prescribing abortifacients
and then tell the patient to go to a hospital, manned by pro-life staff,
to have the abortion completed. This appeared like a strategy to force
unwilling, ethically sound health professionals to take part in killing
one patient (the unborn child) at the request of another (the mother). It
boiled down to a doctor starting the procedure and then referring the
patient for the "mopping up" of the procedure to pro-life staff.
It is a well-known fact amongst nursing
staff that doctors list abortions as sterilisation procedures on theatre
lists. Once the staff is in the theatre, scrubbed and half way through the
procedure, they discover that the doctor is doing an abortion.
DFL therefore calls upon the government to
accept responsibility for the dilemma women find themselves in. Something
should be done about
the pressure on health workers to take part in the abortion procedure.
The public should be well informed if a certain clinic/hospital is
unwilling to perform abortions. Once a hospital is identified as an
abortion provider, the Department of Health must make sure that there are
enough pro-abortion staff to render a 24 hour service, 7 days a week.
It must, however, be stated once again
that health professionals do have the constitutional right NOT to
participate in ANY part of the abortion procedure.
Dr Jay Mannie (Dep. CEO)
Mobile phone: +27(0)83 6414 382
May 28, 2002
Riverside, CA - The American Center for Law and
Justice, an international public interest law firm, announced today that a
federal jury in California has found that Riverside County violated the
constitutional rights of a nurse who was fired from her job after she
refused to dispense medication known as a "morning-after" pill designed to
"This is a tremendous victory for our client and for
all health care professionals who want to do their jobs without violating
their consciences and religious beliefs," said Francis J. Manion, Senior
Counsel of the ACLJ, which represented the nurse. "This verdict sends a
very clear message that conscience rights of employees must be respected
by employers everywhere."
A U.S. District Court jury in Riverside has found
that Riverside County violated the constitutional rights of former nurse
Michelle Diaz. Following a four-day trial in federal court that ended May
24th, the jury found the county was liable on all three counts presented:
violated her First Amendment rights of free speech; violated her
rights of freedom of religion; and, failed to reasonably accommodate her
religious beliefs. The jury also awarded damages totaling more than
$47,000 - including $19,000 in damages for back pay, and more than $28,000
in damages for emotional distress.
The case began in December 2000 when the ACLJ filed
suit in U.S. District Court in Riverside, California against the Riverside
Neighborhood Health Center on behalf of Diaz, who worked as a Clinic
Health Nurse at the center. The suit contended that Diaz was fired after
she told her supervisor that her deeply held religious beliefs prevented
her from distributing medication designed to end pregnancies because she
believed she would be participating in an abortion. The
suit contended that she was fired from her job in June 1999 shortly after
she talked to the news media about the "morning-after" pill controversy
and explained her position.
Manion said the verdict is an important victory for
free speech and religious freedom. "This is an important victory in
what's become the new frontier of religious discrimination - employers who
force employees to violate their consciences and religious beliefs by
requiring them to dispense pregnancy ending drugs."
The ACLJ was assisted in the trial by attorney Robert
Tyler of the firm, Tyler & Dorsa in Temecula, CA.
FRANK MANION (502)
549-7020The American Center for Law and Justice is an
international public interest law firm that specializes in constitutional
law and pro-life issues. The ACLJ is headquartered in Virginia.
For Immediate Release
22 April, 2002
An Albertan writes to a professional organization with concerns about
its policies on civil rights and public health issues. She gets no
Registered professionals in Alberta, worried about policies that could
cost them their jobs, send letters to their licensing authority. Their
letters are ignored.
What can these people do in the face of bureaucratic stonewalling? At
the moment, not much.
That will change if an Alberta legislative committee agrees with a
submission by the Protection of Conscience Project. The Project wants the
province's Freedom of Information Act regulations amended so that
the Act will apply to self-governing professions like the Alberta College
"Stonewalling by the Alberta College of Pharmacists led to the
submission," said Administrator Sean Murphy. "I couldn't get even the
courtesy of an acknowledgement, despite repeated requests. I heard from a
private citizen and some pharmacists who had the same problem."
"I had successfully used British Columbia's Freedom of Information
Act to get information from the College of Pharmacists of British
Columbia in similar circumstances, so I sent an access request to the
Alberta College. It was rejected, because self-governing professions in
Alberta aren't subject to the province's freedom of information law. The
Project submission argues that it's time to change the law."
People who want Alberta's Freedom of Information and Protection of
Privacy Act updated can send letters and submissions to the
legislative committee in Edmonton until 10 May, 2002. See the
Protection of Conscience Project brief online.
For Immediate Release
24 February, 2002
It is an unusual cover for a medical journal: a crouching,
brawny Aryan hero, glowering murderously from under a horned helmet, a
copper IUD clutched in his sword hand.
The Administrator of the Protection of Conscience Project
wants to post the cover of the January/February edition of the BC
Medical Journal on the Project website. In a letter to the editor of
the Journal, he describes the cover as "a splendid illustration of
the usual basis for conscientious objection to potentially abortifacient
devices and drugs."
Most physicians or others who object to the IUD
(intrauterine device) and the 'morning-after-pill' do so because such
things may act - not by preventing fertilization - but by destroying the
developing human embryo by preventing its implantation in the uterine
wall. This mechanism of action is explicitly acknowledged in the Journal's
article, written by Dr. Roey Malleson.
Rather than recognizing that the destruction of the
developing embryo is a key moral issue - and a controversial one - Dr.
Malleson defines the issue out of existence by adopting a coded
vocabulary. Only readers familiar with authoritative embryological texts
are likely to recognize the polemic behind Dr. Malleson's use of words
like 'abortifacient', 'pregnancy', and 'contraception'.
The Project letter lauds the article as "an excellent
example of moral obfuscation masquerading as science," but challenges
Dr. Malleson's authority to tutor colleagues in faith and morals. It
rejects the suggestion that civil suits might be used to suppress the
freedom of conscience of those who do not share the BC Medical Journal's
enthusiasm for Aryan warriors.
Catholic Health Association Supports
Medically Appropriate, Morally
Acceptable Care for Sexual Assault Victims
21 March, 2002
WASHINGTON, DC (March 21, 2002) - The following statement is being
released by Rev. Michael D. Place, STD, president and chief executive
officer, Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA):
The Catholic health ministry, a ministry founded in large measure by
religious women known for their service to women and children, is
committed to providing personal support and quality medical care for any
woman who is a victim of sexual assault. In fact, the Ethical and
Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services say that
"compassionate and understanding care should be given to a person who is a
victim of sexual assault [and that] a female who has been raped should be
able to defend herself against a potential conception from a sexual
assault." If, after appropriate testing, it is considered medically
appropriate, approved FDA drugs can be administered in a Catholic hospital
for contraceptive purposes for the prevention of fertilization. In a
narrow set of circumstances, a Catholic hospital cannot provide these
drugs if their effect would be abortifacient: that is, the fertilized ovum
would be destroyed. While some would assert that the fertilized ovum prior
to implantation is not human life, the Catholic tradition does consider
the fertilized ovum to be human life and deserving of the respect and
protection due any human being.
The Catholic Health Association is eager to work with Congress and
others to ensure that compassionate, medically appropriate, and morally
acceptable care be given to anyone who experiences the crime of sexual
assault. One can only wonder, however, if the real intent of this
legislation has nothing to do with the care of vulnerable women who have
experienced the trauma of sexual assault. It would seem that the real
purpose of this proposed legislation is to pursue the narrow agenda of the
pro-abortion lobby; namely, eroding the protection of human life by
defining life as beginning only with implantation and infringing on the
religious freedom of Catholic health care and others of good will who wish
to care for women and others in accord with their beliefs or deeply held
The St. Louis-based Catholic Health Association of the
United States (CHA) is the national leadership organization representing the
Catholic health ministry. CHA's more than 2,000 members form the nation's
largest group of not-for-profit health care sponsors, systems, facilities,
health plans, and related organizations.