Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Vanderbilt's Nurse Residency Application Challenged As Violating Church Amendment

Alliance Defense Fund announced yesterday that it had filed a complaint (full text) with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights challenging Vanderbilt University's nurse residency application requirements. A federal statute, 42 USC 300a-7 (known as the "Church Amendment"), prohibits any entity reveiving grants under various federal programs from discriminating against applicants for training or study "because of the applicant's reluctance, or willingness, to counsel, suggest, recommend, assist, or in any way participate in the performance of abortions or sterilizations contrary to or consistent with the applicant's religious beliefs or moral convictions."  The Vanderbilt application packet contains an acknowledgement that must be signed by applicants seeking admission to the Women's Health Track of the Nurse Residency Program which states in part:
If you are chosen for the Nurse Residency Program in the Women's Health track, you will be expected to care for women undergoing termination of pregnancy....  It is important that you are aware of this aspect of care and give careful consideration to your ability to provide compassionate care to women in these situations. 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.
UPDATE: On Jan. 12, Vanderbilt announced that it was changing its nurse residency application, according to a release by ADF. The application now says that "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." [Thanks to Friendly Atheist for the update.]