A law passed in 1999 included a requirement that would force Catholic hospitals to provide employee insurance coverage for artificial contraception. This has resulted in a lawsuit against the state. An application for a preliminary injunction is to be heard in a Sacramento Court in late August.
After a difficult five year struggle, eight Ontario health care professionals win the right to choose.
Markham-Stoufville, Ontario, Canada
Staff with religious objections will not be required to provide primary nursing care to a patient admitted for an abortion, but could be required to provide post-abortion nursing care. They would not, however, have to in any way participate “in the administration, monitoring or documenting of the pregnancy termination process.”
They did it!
After a five year battle, eight Ontario nurses won the right to refuse to assist in abortions at the Markham-Stoufville Hospital, just outside Toronto. The nurses had taken their fight to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and one nurse, Ailene George, had filed a civil suit.
They hope their victory will be precedent-setting. “I want all nurses in the future to have the right to say, “No,” said Joanne Van Halteren, one of the eight. “This will have a ripple effect.”
The case was to be heard by the OHRC, but the sides reached a mediated settlement April 13 in which the hospital issued a policy respecting the nurses’ religious objections to performing abortions.
. . . The nurses’ battle took its toll. One nurse, Ann Mahon, died of cancer in May 1998. Others suffered stress-related illnesses. Una Clennon had a lump removed from her breast that her doctor believed was brought on by stress. [Full text]
Valparaiso, Indiana, U.S.A.
Elaine Tramm was fired despite the fact that Indiana had a protection of conscience statute. It took three years to win a lawsuit against the hospital; five months later, a jury awarded her $5,200.00 in compensatory damages and more than $18,000.00 in punitive damages. The following excerpt from the judgement of the District Court sets out the circumstances leading to her dismissal.
… On November 13, 1986, the plaintiff, Elaine Tramm, was hired by the Porter
Memorial Hospital (PMH) as a part-time Workroom Instruments Aide and was
assigned to the Portage Medical Surgical Center (Center). . . On December 1,
1986, Tramm began a full-time orientation program . . . The job description for
an aide included cleaning surgical instruments and handling surgical specimens.
Tramm claims that at the time she was hired she was not aware that abortions
were performed at the Center or that the job description included cleaning
abortion instruments. On December 7, 1986, Tramm learned that the Center was
equipped for abortions. Tramm subsequently informed her supervisors, Leslie
O’Toole, Isobel Cardonna, James Pingatore, and Donald Wadle, that she was a
Roman Catholic and that because of her religious beliefs she was opposed to
cleaning and preparing instruments used in performing abortions or handling
fetal tissue after abortion procedures. On December 12, 1986, Tramm claims that
another Aide, Marlene Haller, told her to clean instruments that had been used
in abortion procedures. According to Tramm, she cleaned the instruments because
she was afraid of losing her job. [Full text]
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Sean Murphy *
Cecilia Moore was a probationary employee of the British Columbia welfare department when a client asked for medical coverage for an abortion. The abortion would have been a criminal offence under the law in force at the time, and was, in the view of the attending physician, not only unnecessary for medical reasons but actually contra-indicated.
Moore refused to approve coverage on the grounds that the client was ineligible under departmental policy. However, her supervisor ordered her to sign authorization for coverage. Moore persisted in her refusal, citing policy, the criminal law and her own conscientious objections to abortion. Although rated as “an excellent worker”, she was dismissed.
Seven years later the BC Council of Human Rights ruled that Moore had been a victim of ‘adverse effect discrimination’ awarding $7,703.80 for compensation in lost wages and $1,000.00 as compensation for “humiliation.”
What follows is a summary of the facts drawn from the reported case and a summary of evidence prepared for the hearing. [Full text]