Pediatric Nurse Files Complaint With HHS After Leaving Job Over Requirement to Provide Abortion Referrals

ROCKFORD, Ill. — A former pediatric nurse in Illinois has filed a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) after she felt forced out of her job when her employer allegedly told her that she could not keep her position if she wouldn’t be willing to provide referrals for abortions and morning-after pills.

Sandra Rojas had been working for the Winnebago County Health Department for 18 years, when in 2015, she was informed that her unit was being merged with women’s health under the new administration. According to Rojas, nurses were required to be trained in referring women for abortions, and helping them obtain Plan B.

When Rojas advised that the mandate conflicted with her religious convictions, she says that she was told that she could not work at the department without the training, and was offered a temporary job as a food inspector.

“The new administrator basically showed her the door, saying, ‘Unless you willing to do this and participate, you can’t work here,'” attorney Noel Sterett of the law firm Mauck & Baker told OneNewsNow.

Rojas refused the food inspector position and resigned from her job in 2015. She filed a lawsuit against her former employer a year later, seeking damages under the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act.

“Nursing is more than just a job; it is a noble calling to protect life and do no harm,” Rojas, a Roman Catholic, told reporters at the time. “There is something terribly wrong when you are forced out of your job on account of your commitment to protect life.”

The Winnebago County Health Department disputes one of the facts in the lawsuit, as it claimed in legal documents that Rojas had been offered a full-time job as a nurse at River Bluff Nursing Home, but rather chose to resign. Rojas now works at Walter Lawson Children’s Home in Loves Park.

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Sterett told the Rockford Register Star that a complaint has also now been filed with HHS so that the department can “decide whether to open an investigation.”

“Federal law prohibits government officials from discriminating against medical professionals who cannot in good conscience participate in abortion,” he said in a statement on Jan. 16. “Those that compel pro-life doctors and nurses to act contrary to their conscience should not qualify for federal funds. We have filed this complaint to inform the HHS of what is happening so that it can take action.”

“Pro-life nurses shouldn’t be forced to perform or assist in abortion procedures,” also remarked Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Legal Counsel Denise Harle, who is serving as co-counsel in the case. “It’s illegal, unethical, and a violation of Rojas’ rights of conscience … to require her to participate in the taking of an innocent life. An individual’s conscience and commitment to the Hippocratic Oath to ‘do no harm’ is often what draws health care workers into the medical field. We’re hopeful that the HHS will quickly resolve this injustice.”

As previously reported, HHS announced on Thursday that it is creating a new Office of Civil Rights division focused on protecting the right of conscience and religious freedom.

“The Conscience and Religious Freedom Division has been established to restore federal enforcement of our nation’s laws that protect the fundamental and unalienable rights of conscience and religious freedom,” the department said in a statement.

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  • james blue

    If you are employed you should do your employers business or seek employment elsewhere. .

    It is up to us to work around life to live by our faith, not expect others to work around us to accommodate it.

    • John O

      u make a good spokesman for the nazis. that was the rule of law exterminating Jews.

      • james blue

        Doing the work of your employer is the rule of law exterminating Jews?

        If your religious beliefs conflict with the business of your employer you are working for working for that employer.

        Nobody owes us a living and nobody should be forced to accommodate our faith.

        • John O

          Acts 5:29 (ESV)
          29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.

          of course, if u are not a Christian, that means nothing to u. in my lifetime we have passed laws contrary to the law of God. when i was in the army n the 50’s most of that was considered communism, which is state instead of God.

          • james blue

            That’s random.

            Where did I say otherwise? Now please quote the bible passage that says government should be forcing responsibility on others to assist us living by our faith.

            Are you now suggesting belief in personal responsibility for living by our faith is communism?

            It is up to us to make the sacrifices in life in order to live by our faith, not have others make accommodations for us. If this means certain jobs in certain companies are not suited to us, so be it.

          • John O

            u might want to check your history. it was hitlers government that passed state law to exterminate the Jews. i don’t have a clue why anybody would want to justify what u suggest. never heard of crimes against humanity? didn’t know we now have a former administration accused of crimes against humanity? choice is who u believe. we are a very divided country right now. its Christ against the antichrist. not the employer.

          • james blue

            I’m well aware of history, What I can’t figure out is what the holocaust have to do with taking personal responsibility to not work for an employer whose business conflicts with your faith?

            What the rest of your post is rambling on about I have no idea.

          • John O

            well we are mutual about that. praise Jesus.

        • IzTheBiz

          ”If your (religious) beliefs conflict with the business of your employer you are working for the wrong employer.”

          tell that to all the homosexuals, muslims etc, who take their employers to court for not accommodating their beliefs!

          • james blue

            It applies to ALL.

            What “beliefs” are homosexuals asking their employers to accommodate?

          • IzTheBiz

            The beliefs of pagan idolatry,

            “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

            24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

            26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

            28Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

          • james blue

            Please give me one example of “the beliefs of pagan idolatry” that an employer has been taken to court over.

      • DrIndica

        Awfully early in the conversation to invoke Godwin’s Law.

        • John O

          thank u. had to look it up. i am not as literate as u so i would just call it history repeating itself. a dr spent his retirement $500,000 trying to keep his son out of prison for murder of 6 week old fetus which was identified as human. now the government orders medical professionals to commit murder and on the other hand prosecutes. Come Lord Jesus.

          • Sharon Diehl

            Do reference for this “case” that you keep referring to.

            Honey, do you know that most human embryos are never born? Upwards of 80% of embryos fail to implant in a uterine wall within 6 to 12 days after fertilization and are flushed from sexually active women during menses (Drs. Michael Sandel, John Opitz, former President’s Council on Bioethics). Too many people have this simplistic notion that once a month only one unfertilized egg is ejected from a woman, but no. If a woman is sexually active. embryos are also flushed in menstrual flow. Gynecologists state that half of those embryos, had they implanted, could have developed into viable fetuses. Health organizations such as March of Dimes estimate that half of all pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion. Abortion is a natural bodily process in a woman’s reproductive system.

            “The majority of embryos die within a few weeks of conception. This fact is widely known within medical circles, but is a surprise to many in the general public… the riskiest time is before the embryo has
            implanted in the uterine wall (which typically occurs between 8–10 days after conception (Wilcox et al. 1999). During this early stage, the proportion of surviving embryos drops off rapidly and only approximately 50% of them successfully implant…. A mother of three children could be expected to have also had approximately five spontaneous abortions. An embryo’s survival to term is the exception rather than the norm.

            It might seem surprising that these dramatic death rates for early embryos could remain unknown to the general public. However, the reason for this is that most embryo loss occurs before the pregnancy has been detected, and the woman is unaware that anything out of the ordinary has happened. The embryo simply
            passes out of the uterus with the next menses.”
            — Toby Ord, The Scourge: Moral Implications of Natural Embryo Loss: The American Journal of Bioethics, 8(7): 12–19.

      • Sharon Diehl

        Re: “exterminating Jews”: Several Jewish organizations have weighed in on how they are affronted by the trivialization of the Holocaust by comparing it to
        personal political agendas.

        “Holocaust trivialization also manifests itself partly in the growing use of comparisons of disparate events to elements bearing no resemblance to the Holocaust…among the better-known ideological or political causes of the trivializers are, for instance, environmentalism, animal rights or PRO-LIFE ACTIVISM…”

        Sweetie, an individual woman’s medical decision has nothing to do with Nazi Germany.


        • CB

          “an individual woman’s medical decision has nothing to do with N*zi Germany.”

          Mmmmm… Yes and no. Watch out for the projection.

          It should not surprise anyone that forced-birthers talk about themselves in public. They are very sick people.

          “Results of Secret N*zi Breeding Program… These are the children of the Lebensborn, an SS program devised to propagate Aryan traits.”

          (New York Times, “Results of Secret N*zi Breeding Program: Ordinary Folks”, MARK LANDLERNOV, Nov 7, 2006)

  • ♥LadyInChrist♥InGodITrust♥

    I pray for God’s Will for this Nurse to be done.

  • Amos Moses – He>i

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  • God bless you Sandra.

  • Sharon Diehl

    I’m sure a catholic hospital would be glad to have Ms. Rojas on their staff, ready to deny women reproductive options and impose religious dogma onto patients, doctors, and nurses. Ms. Rojas will feel right at home there, denying contraception to women as well as abortion.