Update: NJ Nurses Can Refuse to Provide Abortion Care

A New Jersey hospital has reached a deal with twelve nurses that claimed they were forced to help care for abortion patients. The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey has agreed to allow the nurses to remain in their current positions and refuse to assist in any part of an abortion. The nurses must still assist a patient that is in a life-threatening situation if no other nurses are available to help – but only until someone else can be brought in to take over.

While both the hospital and the nurses say they are happy with the outcome, concerns still remain for what this settlement could mean for women that need abortion care. After all, these nurses have basically been given the okay to discriminate against patients based on their personal ideology. As Brigitte Amiri, an attorney with the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, pointed out to The Washington Post, ““No one should ever have to worry about facing discrimination when they check into the hospital.”

The nurses’ attorney claims that his clients will never compromise either their duty to patients or their professional oath. Which is an interesting statement to make, because it seems like they already have.

New Jersey Nurses Refuse to Treat Abortion Patients

A recent lawsuit in New Jersey could greatly affect the way abortion services are performed in hospitals across the country. In late October, twelve nurses filed a suit claiming that the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey violated state and federal law with their announcement that nurses would have to help abortion patients before and after the procedure. This announcement, which came in mid-September, reversed the institution’s previous policy that nurses could refuse to assist these patients based on their moral or religious objections.

New Jersey is far from the only state that allows medical employees to opt out of performing or assisting in abortion procedures. These so-called “conscience” protections were greatly strengthened towards the end of George W. Bush’s presidency; a regulation enacted shortly before he left office would have withheld federal funding from hospitals, clinics, and even state and local governments that did not allow health care employees to refuse to participate in any procedure violated their religious, moral, or personal beliefs. This regulation was widely interpreted as protecting employees that refused to provide birth control pills, perform in-vitro fertilization for single women or lesbians, and refuse to treat gay AIDS patients, among other services. Earlier this year, President Obama rescinded most of the regulation – leaving only the protection for nurses or doctors that do not want to perform abortions or sterilizations. [Read more...]

The Devastating Consequences of Recent New Jersey Budget Cuts to Family Planning

I wrote an article last week about the ill-advised decision of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to cut 7.5m dollars worth of funding to crucial family planning programs in the state. This week, we are now seeing the consequences of such poor judgement. New Jersey family planning clinics, which provide crucial preventative health care services including access to birth control, breast exams, Pap tests, STD screenings, and prenatal care, are now forced to reduce hours, eliminate services, and even shut down certain clinics entirely.

In response to the cuts, FamCare Inc. has said it plans to close centers in Millville and Vineland, reduce operations at its Bridgeton clinic from three days weekly to one and cease operations at Rowan University. Planned Parenthood of Southern New Jersey also said it expects patients to travel farther and wait longer following the cuts to its state funding, which represents nearly 25% of the group’s budget.

[Read more...]

New Jersey Gov. Christie Vetoes Funding for Crucial Family Planning Services

As a result of naive short-term economic thinking, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey has vetoed a bill that would allocate 7.5 million dollars for family planning clinics providing life saving reproductive and sexual health care services to thousands of uninsured women. According to Gov. Christie, his priority is to cut spending and decrease the burden on New Jersey taxpayers. Too bad for Christie, the cost of not having comprehensive reproductive health care services significantly increases the financial burden on both the state and the citizens of New Jersey. To little surprise, Gov. Christie is only thinking about short-term cost without taking into consideration the long-term benefits that family planning services provide the state and local communities. [Read more...]

Conservative Activists Push for Ban on Same-Sex Marriage in New Jersey

Gerald Cardinale

Gerald Cardinale

Republican lawmakers and conservative activists are at it again in New Jersey. Although the momentum has slowly been growing among democrats to push forward equal marriage legislation, social conservatives have made their way out of the woodworks, pushing for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in the state of New Jersey. Senator Gerald Cardinale (R-Bergen) is one of the leading conservative voices behind the push for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in New Jersey, and this isn’t his first time.

The current situation for same-sex couples in New Jersey makes this issue a hot button one for pushing forward with either increased legal access to marriage rights, or a significant roll back. In the state of New Jersey, same-sex couples have been issued the legal right to register as domestic partners since July 10, 2004. Unfortunately, domestic partnership does not resolve the disparity between legal rights afforded to heterosexual couples, and those awarded to non-normalized partnerships. According to a report presented to the Office of the General Counsel of the U.S. General Accounting Office, here are a couple of the 1,138 benefits the United States government provides to legally married couples: [Read more...]

Take Action to Protect Choice in New Jersey

Planned Parenthood in New Jersey needs your help. As the state struggles with an unprecedented economic down turn, we must continue to adequately support New Jersey’s family planning services. These programs provide basic health care services to so many New Jersey women and men, many of whom have recently lost their jobs and/or their health insurance.

  • New Jersey’s family planning agencies provide reproductive and other health care services to over 131,000 women and men. The Guttmacher Institute found that more than six in 10 women who obtained care at a family planning center in 2006 considered the center their usual source of medical care.
  • There is a health care crisis in this country. Over one million New Jersey residents are uninsured and over one million New Jersey women are in need of subsidized family planning services. There is not enough funding to meet the existing need and any cut to the program will mean that agencies will not be able serve some women currently receiving services.

If you’re a New Jersey resident, click over to the Planned Parenthood Action Center and sign their online petition to protect funding for reproductive health services.