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Won U.S. Administrative Agency

Dust v. Vanderbilt University

California’s Physician-Assisted Suicide Law is Anything But Compassionate


Vanderbilt University’s nurse residency application stated “If you are chosen for the Nurse Residency Program in the Women’s Health track, you will be expected to care for women undergoing termination of pregnancy. Procedures performed in the Labor and Delivery unit include…terminations of pregnancy…. If you feel you cannot provide care to women during this type of event, we encourage you to apply to a different track of the Nurse Residency Program to explore opportunities that may best fit your skills and career goals.…” Vanderbilt receives more than $300 million in federal tax dollars each year, and federal law prohibits grant recipients from forcing students or health care workers to participate in abortions contrary to their religious beliefs or moral convictions.

On January 11, 2011, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a complaint on behalf of two nursing students who wished to apply to Vanderbilt’s nurse residency program, but were unable to do so because the admission forms required them to promise to participate in abortions. “Christians and other pro-life members of the medical community shouldn’t be forced to participate in abortions to pursue their profession,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “People enter the medical profession to protect and heal the helpless. Federal law protects them from being required to kill the helpless. The law clearly states that grant recipients cannot accept taxpayer dollars and require health care workers to participate in abortions.”

On January 12, 2011, the day after ADF attorneys filed the complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Vanderbilt University modified its nurse residency application so that it no longer required applicants to pledge that they will participate in abortion procedures.

What's at stake

Freedom of conscience for medical professionals not to be forced to participate in abortion

Our role in this case

Alliance Defending Freedom filed an administrative complaint with HHS in January 2011. 24 hours later, Vanderbilt University changed their requirement that applicants to the program promise to assist abortions.

Case Documents

Administrative Agency
Administrative Agency