Catholic nurse sues Duke University Hospital for requiring her to participate in abortions

(Wikimedia Commons/Ildar Sagdejev)Emergency and Trauma Center at Duke University Hospital in Durham, North Carolina.

A Catholic nurse has sued Duke University Hospital for allegedly discriminating against her when she refused to assist in abortions.

The federal lawsuit, filed on Oct. 27 by the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) of Ann Arbor, Michigan, on behalf of Sara Pedro, alleged that the hospital had discriminated against the nurse when she sought accommodations for her religious beliefs.

During an emergency room orientation in 2016, the an instructor at Duke reportedly stated that even staff with religious objections would be expected to participate in abortions.

Church Militant reported that Pedro was able to acquire an exemption from receiving vaccines as soon as she started working at the hospital in December 2016. However, when she informed her employer that she could not participate in abortions, the nurse was subjected to "several specific acts of retaliation," according to TMLC.

"For example, Duke refused to advance Ms. Pedro from training status to regular duty, issued her a written warning for vague and unsubstantiated reasons and then placed her on administrative leave when she attempted to formally dispute the warning," the TMLC stated in a press release.

Pedro also objected to administering vaccines, based on the grounds that some vaccines are created through experiments on human fetuses.

The law center contended that the hospital's refusal to accommodate Pedro violates several federal and state laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which holds that "an employer is required to reasonably accommodate an employee's sincerely held religious beliefs and religious practices, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship."

The complaint noted that the retaliation had triggered health problems for Pedro, and she is now on personal leave for medical reasons "as a result of injuries defendant Duke caused."

"As a direct and proximate result of defendant Duke's negligence, Ms. Pedro has in fact sustained severe emotional distress and mental anguish, entitling her to an award of compensatory damages, including past and future loss of income, compensation for benefits under the Nurse Loan Forgiveness Program, and past and future medical and counseling expenses," the filing stated, according to World Net Daily.

Duke was also accused of attempting to engage discussions with Pedro, apart from her lawyer, after she received a letter of a right to sue from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and obtained legal counsel.

Pedro, who graduated from Mount St. Mary's University, had previously worked at NYU Langone Medical Center and the Burn ICU at New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center. The nurse has never received any disciplinary action in her previous jobs, according to Life Site News.

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