Nurse quits at Shaughnessy Hospital
When Gina Fraser applied to work in the operating room at Shaughnessy Hospital in Vancouver in 1983, she made it clear that she was unwilling to assist with abortions. The supervisor told her that other nurses were willling to do so, and she would be accommodated. For the next four years she worked in the operating room under the terms of this unwritten agreement. . . [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
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]
A Two Tiered System of Civil Rights
British Columbia, Canada
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]
It was quite a surprise, back in 1973, to be informed by an eminent professor of obstetrics and gynaecology . . as a Roman Catholic specialist, that “there is no place for to practice within the National Health Service . . .” [I]n order to stay in the specialities in the United kingdom, I would have had to compromise a conscientiously held abhorrence to the direct taking of human life. I refused and as a consequence became unemployed with a wife and three children and had to leave country, home and family in order to practise my chosen specialty in full freedom.[Full text]