By Izzy Woods
The controversy over the rights of heath professionals who object to abortion and who withdraw from providing services in such cases has been re-ignited. A dozen nurses in New Jersey are at the centre of a dispute about their employer's decision to force them to participate in the care of women undergoing abortion procedures. This has led to the nurses, who all work at the Same Day Surgery Unit, filing a suit against the hospital where they work, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), and obtaining a restraining order to prevent them being compelled to undertake further related training.
As recent polls show, including those conducted this summer for ABC/Washington post and also by Gallup, abortion continues to be one of the few issues on which Americans are divided in their opinions almost down the middle. However, it is important to stress that this particular confrontation is not an argument about the rights and wrongs of abortion itself, although that inevitably becomes drawn in, but rather it is about the right of healthcare workers to opt out of assisting with such cases. The nurses, whatever their personal feelings on the matter, are not attempting to prevent abortions taking place at the facility where they work, they simply do not want to be party to the practice.