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Nurse says Temple VA forced her to choose performing abortions or her religion

Veterans Affairs Abortion
Posted at 7:41 PM, Dec 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-15 15:00:11-05

WACO, Texas — An Army nurse has filed a lawsuit against the Temple Veterans Affairs hospital over its decision to offer abortions.

Stephanie Carter, a nurse practitioner and Army veteran employed with the Temple VA, said in a complaint filed Tuesday in a Waco federal court that the hospital mandated she would perform abortions up to 10 weeks of pregnancy, despite her objections based on religious grounds.

"I asked my supervisor for a religious accommodation; but each time, I was told that the VA could not accept my religious accommodation request because it had no process in place for doing so," Carter said in the complaint.

The new VA policy announced on Sept. 9 directed its health care providers to give abortions and counseling in cases of rape, incest, or when a pregnancy threatens the patient’s life to veterans and their eligible family members.

The agency's prior policy banned the practice under any circumstances as well as counseling between providers and patients about abortion.

25 News reached out to the VA about the lawsuit, but it declined to comment on the claim.

A spokesperson said the rule change by the Biden administration brings a "full range of reproductive health services to ensure their health and well-being."

Terrence Hayes, the agency's press secretary, sent us the following statement as well:
“While we cannot comment on ongoing litigation, VA does provide accommodation for VA employees who wish to opt out of providing abortion counseling or services. We are currently honoring exemption requests that come through VA supervisors. We have provided all VA health care employees with this information – including information for how to exercise those protections through VA’s Office of Resolution Management Diversity and Inclusion – and we have encouraged employees to inform their supervisors of any requests for exemptions.”

Still, Carter says she's left with few options to follow the agency's direction, and the anxiety from the policy change "forces her to choose between her job and her religious convictions.”

Now, she's asking for a Waco federal judge for a permanent injunction against the Temple facility.

"More than three months after the Rule was issued, the VA still will not accept my religious accommodation request via email, nor am I aware of a process for me to request a religious accommodation," she said in the complaint.