Duke University in North Carolina finds itself the target of a lawsuit by a Catholic nurse. She is suing them for discriminating against her for her beliefs after she refused to help with abortions, birth control and giving vaccinations. She claims she was marginalized for her beliefs.


A Catholic nurse has sued Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C., after alleging that it discriminated against her for her religious beliefs. She says they failed to accommodate her objections to performing abortions, giving patients birth control options, and giving them vaccinations while on duty.

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The lawsuit, which has been filed in the federal court, asks Duke University and its health system for financial reimbursement and compensation for other damages incurred on behalf of Sara Pedro, who moved from New York City in August 2016 to take up a job at the hospital. Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center, a conservative foundation whose advisory board includes former U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, a 2012 GOP presidential candidate, is assisting in the case.

Duke’s spokesperson for the case, Samiha Khanna, said that it is hospital policy not to comment on active litigation.

According to details in the suit, Pedro asked for and was awarded an exemption from receiving vaccines soon after she began working at the hospital. In early December, she told hospital administrators that she was “unable” to assist with abortions as well as not being willing to administer contraceptives or vaccines to patients. Her aversion to administering vaccines is based on The Catholic Church’s ruling that some vaccines, for example, those used in the prevention of rubella, are morally questionable as they were developed from the tissue of aborted fetuses.

According to the Durham Herald-Sun, Duke University Hospital had placed Pedro on unpaid leave in December, for what her lawyers contend were “pretextual reasons.” In addition, the paper reported that the lawsuit alleged that she was kept on “orientation” status much longer than other nurses who were hired more or less at the same time as Pedro.

Pedro has subsequently returned to New York City and, according to the suit, is emotionally scarred. She is suffering from so-called post-traumatic stress and other issues as a result of discrimination against her. She claims she is unable to work because of what she has endured. The lawyers representing her have said that she had worked at hospitals in New York for eight years prior to moving to North Carolina and that she had an impeccable track record.

The lawsuit contends that Duke violated the religious-discrimination section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by failing to give Pedro a “reasonable accommodation” for her beliefs.

What are your thoughts here? Did she over-step the mark in refusing to perform duties which are an inextricable part of life as a nurse, or should she have been accommodated in terms of her beliefs? Who is nursing really about? Share your thoughts.

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