Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights, poses for a portrait, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, at the office of Health and Human Services in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The HHS civil rights office has sent a notice of violation to the University of Vermont Medical Center for pressuring a Catholic nurse to assist in an elective abortion.

In 2017, the hospital started performing elective abortions. I’m not really sure of the reason but one can’t help but notice that they chose to do this even as abortion rates were declining and think that 2017-butthurt-over-Clinton-OrangeManBad played a significant role in the decision. When the decision was announced several staff members told their supervisors that the were not good in participating in infanticide and, under the provision of the Church Amendments, federal laws enacted in the 1970s that states that employees in facilities that receive federal funds do not have to participate in abortions.

This case came about when a Catholic nurse was called in to assist in what she was told was a gynecological procedure.

According to HHS’s investigation, the nurse was told she would be treating a patient who had experienced a miscarriage. When she walked into the procedure room, the doctor allegedly said to her, “Don’t hate me.” The nurse asked for a replacement, but was allegedly told no. The abortion was not an emergency procedure, but an elective one. Fearing losing her job, the nurse relented.

“This should never happen in America. There is room for disagreement on these issues without having to coerce people to choose between a career dedicated to supporting life versus instances or circumstances where they are being forced to take a life,” Roger Severino, head of HHS’s Office of Civil Rights, told reporters on Wednesday.

For the record, the left thinks Severino is the devil himself (see here and here) and the next time someone at The Bulwark or one of their fellow travelers tries to claim Trump has done nothing for conservatives, tell them to go screw themselves.

The Washington Post has more details:

Asked whether the case focused on a Vermont hospital because lawmakers there are trying to pass a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to abortion, Severino said that played no role. “If there was ever a violation of the Church amendments that needed to be enforced, it was this one,” he said.

Manion, the Kentucky-based attorney representing the nurse, said a co-worker of hers brought the incident to his attention. He then filed a three-page letter of complaint with HHS’s civil rights office in May 2018. He said the nurse had worked at the hospital for several years and left voluntarily within the past year, in large part because “she felt the atmosphere over this issue had become toxic.”

Manion said his client was not an antiabortion activist but had placed her name on a list of employees objecting to participating in the procedure. The day of the incident, he said, the nurse had scrubbed in and, when she learned the doctor was performing an abortion, was reluctant to leave, fearing that abandoning a patient could jeopardize her license. She asked whether a co-worker could replace her, Manion said, and was told that could not happen.

(Read the Notice of Violation.)

The hospital has 30 days to bring its rules into compliance with federal regulations or risk losing all federal funding for its operations. The Post says it amounts to $1.6 million for patient care over three years. I find it doubtful that a teaching hospital has only that amount of money as research grants to faculty at the hospital would also be up for grabs. According to the hospital’s chief medical officer, they are afraid that HHS will claw-back money already paid to the hospital and HHS can just f*** right off.

“They threatened to take back $1.6 million for services, but we won’t be blackmailed into changing our policy,” Dr. Stephen Leffler said. “Our hope is they don’t take the dollars back. It will harm other people who have nothing to do with this.”

Leffler said he was unable to say exactly what the federal funds are used for, but that they go to patient services.

The hospital’s current policy, Leffler said, is that employees can opt out of procedures for religious or moral reasons, but that they may be required to participate anyway if a critical situation arises, such as a mass trauma.

This statement shows just how little conscience protection means without an administration that is willing to go to bat for the little guy. By letting the hospital define “a critical situation,” all medical personnel must either participate or stand to lose their medical license. The CMO’s screw-you attitude needs to be beaten out of him in court and the American Center for Law and Justice, which is representing the nurse, is just the outfit to administer that legal ass-whipping.

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