When Sandra (Mendoza) Rojas walked into a local children’s home at 17 years old, she discovered her calling. “Right there and then I knew I wanted to be a nurse and to take care of children. I knew that was my calling, and I knew that is what I was born to be—a pediatric nurse.”
For nearly 40 years, Sandra devoted herself to pediatric healthcare. She loved to help rid children of their pain, and she loved their smiling faces.
For 18 of those years, she served as a nurse with the Winnebago County Health Department in Illinois.
In 2015, a new requirement put Sandra into a difficult position. The requirement forced nurses to undergo training on how to refer women to abortion facilities and help them access abortion-inducing drugs.
“I was given two choices: to violate my faith and my oath to do no harm, or to lose my job in the clinic.”
Ultimately, Sandra stood by her conscience and her faith. And she lost her job.
“Nursing is more than just a job, it is a noble calling to protect life and do no harm,” Sandra has said. “There is something terribly wrong when you are forced out of your job on account of your commitment to protect life.”
Sandra’s job loss had nothing to do with her competency as a nurse. She had been Employee of the Quarter and Employee of the Month.
Instead, she lost her job for doing what she loved—caring for each and every child, born or unborn. With her loss of income, she lost the ability to support her family. She could no longer pay for her son’s college education. But Sandra has no regrets: “I believe I did make the right decision and I would never change it.”
Thankfully, Illinois law protects pro-life medical professionals. Sandra filed a lawsuit against the Winnebago County Health Department for violating her rights under the Illinois’ Health Care Right of Conscience Act. Sandra’s attorney will represent her in court later this month.
Unfortunately, not all doctors or nurses have the conscience protections that Sandra and others enjoy in Illinois. As of now, medical professionals who live in states without similar conscience protections have limited options. They can file a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). These complaints can take years to process. Many who are pro-life in the medical community live in constant fear of losing their jobs simply because of their belief that human life is worth defending.
The March for Life
Each year, thousands of those who believe in the dignity and sanctity of every human life march on Capitol Hill to mark the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
This year, the March for Life theme is “Life Empowers: Pro-Life is Pro-Woman.” Sandra can testify that those who seek to compel others to participate in abortions are not pro-woman.
As the March approaches later this month, stories like Sandra’s should serve as a constant reminder that reversing Roe v. Wade is not the only goal for the pro-life movement.
Organizations like Alliance Defending Freedom are also dedicated to defending those who protect life, ensuring that they never have to violate their convictions in order to pursue their callings as doctors, nurses, or other healthcare professionals.
Sandra wants other medical professionals and all Americans to know that they have the right to stand for their beliefs.
She sums it up well: “What makes America unique is our ability to live out our beliefs … I don’t want the government to take that away from me.”