A North Carolina nurse has filed a discrimination lawsuit against Duke University, claiming she was the victim of disciplinary action because she refused to assist in abortions.
Sara Pedro is a Catholic nurse who was hired by Duke University Hospital to work in its emergency department. During her orientation, she was advised that the hospital performed a large number of abortion procedures, and no staff member was exempted from participation.
Pedro made a written request to be excused from involvement in abortions because of her religious beliefs. Duke hospital officials then refused to let her advance from training status to regular duty.
When Pedro formally disputed the denial, she was then placed on administrative leave for what her lawyers call "vague and unsubstantiated reasons."
Pedro is being represented by the Thomas More Law Center. Attorney Tyler Brooks says the case "illustrates the unfortunate dangers faced today by individuals who seek to remain faithful to their religious beliefs in the workplace."
"Duke subjected Sara to a degrading series of actions designed to punish and retaliate against her for engaging in federally-protected activity," Brooks said. "The clear intent was to force her out of her job with Duke University Hospital."
Brooks points out that under Title VII of federal civil rights law, an employer is required to accommodate an employee's sincerely held religious beliefs, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship.
Pedro received her nursing degree from Mount St. Mary's University. When it came time take her board exam, she promised God that if she passed she would serve Him in her work in the nursing profession.
"Until recently being evicted from her home due to an inability to pay her rent, Sara kept an image of the Blessed Mother on her wall alongside the American flag presented to her father at his retirement from the National Guard," Brooks observed.
Sara Pedro isn't the only medical professional to find herself being compelled to participate in the destruction of preborn children. Congresswoman Diane Black of Tennessee is sponsoring legislation to protect the conscience rights of individuals in the medical profession.
During testimony before a Congressional committee, New York nurse Kathy DeCarlo told her story of being forced to assist in an abortion under threat of termination because of insubordination.
"I'll never forget that day as I watched in horror as the doctor dismembered and removed the baby's bloody limbs, and I had to account for all the pieces," DeCarlo shared. "I still have nightmares about that day."