Kingston, New York Medical Malpractice Lawyer Points To Interesting Case Showing Interplay Of Many Different Areas Of Law


A recent case has been settled in New Jersey regarding nurses having religious objections to performing abortions at their hospital. Now, I dislike taking positions on such controversial topics and I will NOT be telling you my position. Whether or not you support it, PLEASE look past that and look how medical malpractice, health care employees, hospitals, and of course patients all have different contingencies that go across legal lines and extend to moral, ethical, and philosophical. Attorneys do not just have to consider the law, but also religious positions, criminal liability/compliance, and traditions or family beliefs. Very interesting and really important for everyone to understand that a client or patient has so many dimensions are lawyer or doctor needs to consider!

The case that I find so interesting that highlights this interplay is twelve nurses from a New Jersey hospital who refused to perform abortions they were ordered to do. Of course, the hospital wanted them terminated and they wanted to keep their jobs and not get transferred. So the nurses filed a lawsuit with a religious objection under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution in federal court. Judge Jose Linares expertly negotiated a settlement where both sides are content. The nurses do not have to perform the abortions unless there is a life-threatening situation and no other alternative staff present.

This is a major and VERY interesting case to think about; there are other undercurrents are your local hospital such as this. More interesting cases regarding religious objections relate to spiritual healing for children. In these types of cases, the most common in the media are where parents insist and treating their children through spiritual healing as opposed to medical care. Courts have considered various factors and generally held that if the child is able to be healed with a high rate of probability and the parents are going against sound medical judgment, the parents cannot make their children martyrs and the procedure must happen over the objections of the parents. Essentially, the court takes a parens patriae approach.

But courts do not extend this to competent adults. So when a physician has an emergency and has to treat an adult with a religious objection—commonly a blood transfusion scenario regarding Christian Scientists or Jehovah’s Witnesses—they have to respect that objection unless the adult appears to be incompetent.

The bottom line I want you to leave with is that when a doctor treats a patient they are more than just medical treatment at work here. There are religious decisions to make, health care compliance with the Department of Health decisions, criminal liability to consider (i.e. reporting abuse), and of course, standard of care and medical malpractice issues to comport with. The same is true with lawyers and religious, criminal, and malpractice issues. For example, federal courts have even considered this. In civil practice, when an attorney files papers they need to provide an affidavit or affirmation; a sworn statement. But some religions or personal beliefs of individuals will NOT swear on anything. Federal court has provided for declarations which are not sworn statements, but have the penalty of perjury which effectively makes it the same as an affidavit.

But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at . You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at