Last week, a court in Illinois sided with a veteran pediatric nurse who said she was wrongfully forced out of her job for refusing to refer patients for abortions or abortifacient birth control.
Sandra Rojas had been working for the Winnebago County Health Department for 18 years before the implemented a new policy which would have forced her to be trained on how to refer women for abortions and abortifacient contraceptives, i.e. forms of birth control that prevent a conceived embryo from undergoing the natural process of implantation.
Rojas is staunchly pro-life and refused, which resulted in her losing her job.
She subsequently sued in 2016 and, last week, the 17th Judicial Circuit Court in Winnebago County took her side in her lawsuit against the department which sought protection under the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscious Act.
Rojas was represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom and one of their allied law firms, Dalton & Tomich.
“The Health Department improperly discriminated against [Rojas] by refusing to accommodate her objections of conscience in her existing job at the clinic,” the court ultimately decided, as quoted by the ADF. “The Court has concluded that the Health Department could have reasonably accommodated [Rojas’] objections without removing her from her job.”
The religious freedom organization hailed the court’s decision as upholding Rojas’ necessary rights.
“Medical professionals should never be forced to engage in or promote activities that violate their beliefs or convictions,” counsel Elissa Graves of the ADF said. “Sandra found her calling serving as a pediatric nurse, helping children overcome health obstacles and lead fulfilling lives. She chose to practice medicine according to her conscience and religion—a right for medical providers that is protected under Illinois and federal law—yet the Winnebago County health department wrongfully forced her out of a job when she declined to participate in abortion-related services.”
“The court’s ruling protects Sandra’s freedom to practice medicine and care for her young patients in a manner consistent with her conscience and religious beliefs,” she stated.
Noel Sterrit of Dalton & Tomich agreed.
“No American should be forced to refer for abortions or assist patients in accessing abortifacients—least of all medical workers who entered the profession to follow their faith and save lives, not take them,” she said.
“The court’s decision is a win for all health care professionals throughout Illinois. Healthcare professionals should not be required to violate their conscience to keep their jobs,” the attorney added.
The ADF also notes that Rojas is not the only medical professional to experience the loss of their livelihood over their conscience, and unfortunately not every state has such protections for healthcare workers.
This is why the organization not only works to represent others like her as they challenge violations of their conscience but to support legislation that would ensure that healthcare workers everywhere have the right to uphold their religious convictions without facing termination.
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