“Insubordination” : Worker fired for refusing payment for illegal abortion

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Sean Murphy *

Introduction

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]

Nurse Denied Employment, Forced to Resign

A Two Tiered System of Civil Rights

British Columbia, Canada

Sean Murphy*

Bradley, an operating room nurse with 15 years experience, was told that she could keep her position only if she assisted in abortions. As a result, she went to Children’s
Hospital, and eventually left the nursing profession. She has not worked in the health care field since 1984.

Registered Nurse Linda Bradley had been refused employment at four British Columbia hospitals when she applied to work at Richmond General Hospital in 1977. Langley Memorial, Peace Arch Hospital, Delta Hospital and Vancouver General had all denied her employment because she was unwilling to assist in abortions. When asked if she would assist in abortions at Richmond General, she agreed. By that time she was desperate for a job.

Nurse Bradley was involved with abortions at Richmond General for about two years, assisting at about nine abortions monthly. The abortions occupied a total of about four hours of her work each month.

One day, however, she was told to scrub for a hysterotomy of a woman 5 1/2 months pregnant. A hysterotomy is a Caesarean section performed for the sole purpose of killing the child. Reason for the abortion: “multiparity”. The woman had had previous pregnancies. [Full text]