by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – A Christian nurse in Illinois was awarded $374,000 in attorneys’ fees last week, after a trial court found that Winnebago County violated her religious freedoms by ordering her to refer women for abortion, the Christian Post (CP) reports.
Pediatric nurse Sandra Rojas had worked with the Winnebago County Health Department for 18 years when she was told that new regulations required all nurses to be trained in referring women to abortion clinics and helping them obtain abortifacient contraceptives, CP reports.
The department refused to give Rojas a religious exemption and fired her when she stated she could not undergo the training on account of her faith, CP reports. Represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) legal group, Rojas filed suit claiming unfair dismissal under the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act.
In his ruling last week, Circuit Court Judge Eugene Doherty ruled that the Winnebago County Health Department must pay $374,000 to Rojas attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom, CP reports.
“Medical professionals should never be forced to engage in or promote activities that violate their beliefs or convictions,” ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot said in a statement. “The court’s fee award sends a clear message that healthcare workers are free to practice medicine in a manner consistent with their conscience and religious beliefs, and there will be a steep penalty if the government fails to respect that legally protected freedom.”
Last November, the 17th Judicial Circuit Court in Winnebago County ruled in favor of Rojas and 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.”
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