NJ nurses still threatened to perform abortions. How did we get here?


Despite a temporary restraining order, twelve nurses of New Jersey’s University of Medicine and Dentistry who were almost forced to participate in abortions aren’t out of the woods yet. On Monday, several of the nurses claimed that UMDNJ is still scheduling them to take part:

[Fe Esperanza] Racpan-Vinoya and other nurses who attended the news conference — all but four in their unit have signed on to the lawsuit — said they had made their objections known to their supervisor and to hospital officials, and claim their concerns were dismissed or ignored. Hospital officials said previously they would temporarily stop requiring nurses to assist, and a federal judge issued a restraining order to that effect, but the nurses claim it’s still going on.

The hospital issued a statement Monday saying no nurse is compelled to participate, or even be in the room, during a procedure to which they object on cultural, religious or ethical grounds.

“The university is in full compliance with all applicable state and federal laws, and is confident its position will be vindicated when the court gives this matter a full hearing,” the statement read.

Two hospital spokespeople who attended the news conference declined to answer any questions beyond the release, saying it was an ongoing legal matter.

It’s clear that somebody’s lying; who do you suppose it is? Considering that UMDNJ has a history of lawbreaking, I dare say we can be reasonably confident it’s not the nurses.

Because both federal and state law is so unambiguous when it comes to coerced participation in abortion, one expects the Alliance Defense Fund and the nurses to eventually have a relatively easy victory in court (though considering what goes on elsewhere regarding abortion criminality, maybe that’s just wishful thinking). The real question is: how did our country get to the point where there’s even a debate about this? And yes, there is a debate—the Obama Administration, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and the National Organization for Women, not to mention left-wing feminist websites like Jezebel and Feminists for Choice, oppose and bitterly denounce the very concept of conscience protection laws.

A big part of the reason pro-aborts have grown comfortable pushing the line so far is today’s intolerance of…well, intolerance. In many quarters, it’s considered socially taboo to suggest there’s something shameful about any beliefs or opinions (other than, say, violent crime or bigotry). “Our democracy might work a bit better,” Barack Obama writes in The Audacity of Hope, “if we recognized that all of us possess values that are worthy of respect.” To say a particular value isn’t worthy of respect, then, is not only an intolerable slight against someone’s character, it’s also breaking the rules of how the democracy game is played in polite company.

To be clear, respect for differing views on most subjects is a necessary virtue both in one’s personal life and in the public sphere. As any sidewalk counselor will tell you, even challenging someone’s support for abortion often requires a more nuanced touch than outright moral haranguing, particularly when pro-choice leanings are motivated by trying personal circumstances or misinformation about what’s really growing within the womb, not mere moral callousness.

But compassionate and understanding though we must be with those considering abortion, we must also be uncompromising in our assessment of the act itself. The killing of a baby is not “unfortunate.” It is not “disappointing.” It is evil.

And when society allows any evil to take root inside the wall dividing respectable from repugnant, that evil will branch out in ways that can shock but shouldn’t surprise. It’s impossible to have the central injustice of abortion without also getting further injustices from those trying to uphold it. Until abortion itself is uprooted, we should expect further horror stories like New Jersey’s.

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