Christian Nurse Sues The VA For Forcing Staff To Assist With Abortions

 A former Army nurse filed a lawsuit against Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough on Tuesday over a new rule that forces staff to administer “abortions and abortion counseling.”

The VA changed its medical care coverage to provide abortions after the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade in June, which then trigged Texas’ abortion ban that had been passed earlier that year, according to the lawsuit. Stephanie Carter, a nurse at the Temple, Texas, VA facility, filed the lawsuit after being told there was no system in place to process her religious exemption to the VA’s new policy that would require her to assist in performing abortions and provide counseling to veterans seeking an abortion.

Carter’s attorney, Holly Randall, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the VA’s new rule puts Carter in a horrible position between “losing her job or violating her sincerely held religious belief while incurring criminal liability under Texas law.”

On Sept. 2, after pressure from Democratic members of Congress, the VA announced that it would be including abortion in its medical coverage, according to the lawsuit. The new rule did not provide a public comments phase until 30 days after the rule went into effect on Sept. 9 because McDonough said it would be “impracticable and contrary to the public interest.”

The new rule allows abortions when necessary to “promote, preserve, or restore the health” of the veteran or their beneficiaries as well as in instances of rape or incest, according to the lawsuit. There is currently no trimester or viability limit for when a doctor can perform an abortion, leaving the decision up to the medical professional in charge.

Carter requested a religious exemption on “two separate occasions” in October due to her Christian belief that “unborn babies are created in the image of God and should be protected,” the lawsuit stated. Carter was denied both times and currently, the VA still does not accept religious exemptions to the new rule.

Randall told the DCNF that without the ability to request an accommodation, Carter is left in a position where she can be prosecuted by the state of Texas. Carter has worked with the VA for 23 years and was in the Army for eight.

“Texas law punishes providers that offer abortions for circumstances other than to save the life of the mother, so by [Carter] following the rule at the VA facility she is putting herself at risk for civil liability, criminal liability and losing her license under Texas law,” Randall explained.

In addition, the lawsuit points out that medical professionals can object to performing an abortion if it is within “the exercise of medical judgment,” but has no system in place for, and has repeatedly denied, requests for religious accommodation. This discrepancy violates the First Amendment protections that Carter is entitled to, according to Randall.

“Federal law requires [the VA] to consider the religious objections of their health care workers, so for someone like Ms. Carter that has an objection to abortion, they are required to consider her religious beliefs,” Randall stated.

Randall also said Carter was never given a deadline for when she would be able to submit a request for accommodation. While the VA never threatened to fire Carter, they’ve continued to tell her to wait without explanation, continuing to put Carter at odds with Texas law, Randall told the DCNF.

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