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.

Clinic Escorts Discuss Their Work

For over twenty years, volunteers with the Washington Area Clinic Defense Task Force (WACDTF) have been providing a reassuring and peaceful pro-choice presence for patients and their companions at Washington, D.C.-area clinics. Below, three current volunteers – Bill, Colin, and Rachel – discuss their work. The opinions they express are their own and not those of WACDTF.

When did you first call yourself a feminist, and what influenced that decision?
About 1969, when the “second wave” of feminism was sweeping the U.S. A faculty colleague at the University of Minnesota – Duluth invited me to volunteer as support staff at a feminist conference and later to join a CR (consciousness-raising) group. I was a graduate student four years out of college and felt that I’d missed out on much of the civil rights movement of the early 1960s because I had been too focused on studies as an undergraduate; this was my chance to correct that error. Also, in 1964 I’d seen an older friend, a brilliant student who had graduated with honors from Bryn Mawr, forced to attend secretarial school to find a job because few careers were then open to women.

Rachel: I’ve probably been someone who always called herself a feminist. My freshman year I went to Evergreen State College, which was a real hippie school, and I loved the term riotgrrl without really thinking about it. But my earliest memory of being a consciously active feminist was reading coverage of the horrible Woodstock ’99. To me it’s the first definitive memory I have of realizing that the rules are different for girls. I have a framed copy of a 1999 issue of ROCKRGRL Magazine with the title “RapeStock” and the picture is a bare-breasted woman sitting on her boyfriend’s shoulders. A hand reaches from below and grabs her breast. It’s the image that made me want to fight back. [Read more...]

Chicago’s Mayor Daley Will Sign Law to Protect Abortion Clinics

abortion clinic escortsChicago abortion clinics have an unlikely ally in the form of Mayor Richard Daley. Daley announced on Friday that he will approve a new piece of legislation that will impose a bubble zone to protect family planning patients from abortion protesters. According to the Chicago Tribune:

The City Council voted 28-13 on Wednesday to approve the ordinance, which creates 8-foot “bubble zones” around people who are within 50 feet of a medical facility. Venturing into that space without consent could result in a $500 fine.

Critics said the ordinance violates free speech rights of protesters who want to counsel women out of having abortions. They called on Daley to use his veto power to block the measure from taking effect Nov. 17.

But the mayor sided with supporters who said the new measure will promote patient safety. [Read more...]