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Pro-life nurse awarded over $374,000 when she was forced to resign for refusing to refer women to abortion services

by | Feb 21, 2022

By Dave Andrusko

It took six years but last week Circuit Court Judge Eugene Doherty issued an award of $374,104 in damages and attorney fees to pro-life nurse Sandra Mendoza Rojas, of Rockford, Illinois. Rojas worked as a pediatric nurse for 18 years before she resigned in 2015 when she refused to undergo training on how to refer women to abortion facilities and help them access abortifacients.

She filed her grievance against the Winnebago County Health Department under the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act.

Last November, in Rojas v. Martell, the court wrote, “The Health Department improperly discriminated against (Rojas) by refusing to accommodate her objections of conscience in her existing job at the clinic. The Court has concluded that the Health Department could have reasonably accommodated (Rojas’) objections without removing her from her job.”

Rojas had said, prior to the ruling, “Nursing is more than just a job, it is a noble calling to protect life and do no harm. There is something terribly wrong when you are forced out of your job on account of your commitment to protect life.”

 “Medical professionals should never be forced to engage in or promote activities that violate their beliefs or convictions,” said ADF Legal Counsel Elissa Graves, who served as co-council. “Sandra found her calling serving as a pediatric nurse, helping children overcome health obstacles and lead fulfilling lives. She chose to practice medicine according to her conscience and religion—a right for medical providers that is protected under Illinois and federal law—yet the Winnebago County health department wrongfully forced her out of a job when she declined to participate in abortion-related services. The court’s ruling protects Sandra’s freedom to practice medicine and care for her young patients in a manner consistent with her conscience and religious beliefs.”

According to Micaiah Bilger, “In 2015, the County’s new Public Health Administrator, Dr. Sandra Martell, merged the pediatric clinic with women’s health services and mandated that all nurses be trained to provide abortion referrals and participate in the provision of abortifacients like Plan B.

“When Ms. Mendoza informed Dr. Martell and the administration of her conscientious objections to participating in any way in the provision of abortions, Dr. Martell gave Ms. Mendoza two weeks to either quit or accept a demotion to a temporary job as a food inspector. Mendoza refused the demotion and was forced to resign in July 2015. …”

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