Pro-life nurse sues Family Planning Center for not hiring her to not do a job
Sara Hellwege, a pro-life nurse in Tampa, Florida, is suing Tampa Family Health Centers after not being considered for a job just because she said she would not do that job, on account of it violating her religious beliefs. Crazy, I know.
In an email exchange with Chad Lindsey, the human resources director of TFHC, Hellwege was asked about her membership in the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and asked her if her beliefs would prevent her from working there. Hellwege said that while she would be able to “counsel” women about various birth control methods, she would only be able to prescribe barrier methods and sterilization. She then inquired if there were any job openings for antepartum and laborist only.
Mr. Lindsey then informed her that TFHC was a Title X organization, and that there were no jobs currently available that did not require her to prescribe birth control pills. Simple enough.
Or not. Ms. Hellwege is now being represented by the “Alliance Defending Freedom,” who are filing a federal lawsuit on her behalf claiming that she is being discriminated against due to her religious beliefs.
From the ADF’s press release:
The lawsuit, Hellwege v. Tampa Family Health Centers, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, explains that “TFHC’s refusal to consider Ms. Hellwege’s application for employment on the basis of her religious beliefs and association with the pro-life group AAPLOG violates multiple federal laws.”
The lawsuit also explains that “Florida law shall not require ‘any person to participate in the termination of a pregnancy, nor shall…any person be liable for such refusal.’” Moreover, “Ms. Hellwege has the right to refuse to prescribe abortifacient contraceptives where such actions violate her religious beliefs or moral convictions.”
First of all–I’m not sure how someone can have a legitimate “religious belief” that contraceptives are “abortifacients” when they clearly are not. Like, you can’t just make up how you think contraceptives work and expect everyone to go along with you. If that’s the case, then I get to say that the Stork is responsible for bringing babies into this world, and therefore birth control pills are just oral scarecrow pills.
Second, you know who that law probably doesn’t apply to? People looking to work as abortion doctors. Because it’s sort of a pre-requisite to such a job. Similarly, a person whose religious beliefs prevent them from prescribing birth control is probably not a good fit for a job for which prescribing birth control is a primary duty.
I mean, let’s say my religious beliefs dictated that I could not write. It would probably be pretty tough for me to get a job in writing. It would be totally fair for someone to not hire me to write if I refused to do so. Also, as an atheist, it would also probably be pretty hard for me to get a job as a nun, unless it were a condition of witness protection.
ADF is also filing a Title VII complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission in Tampa. However, the problem with filing a Title VII complaint is that it’s not “discrimination” if the accommodation being asked for causes the employer “undue hardship.”
The undue hardship in this case would be being required to pay someone money for a job they have stated that they will not do. They also would have had to ask her if her religion prevented her from doing the job, which they did not. They asked if her membership in a non-religious organization prevented her from doing the job.
Were TFHC to hire Ms. Hellwege, they would also have to hire another person to do half of her job for her. It is probably a lot easier and less costly for them to hire someone who will actually do the entire job in question.
I would assume, under normal circumstances, that this lawsuit would be trashed upon arrival, but honestly, who can tell these days?