A licensed practical nurse is suing the Winnebago County Health Department over allegedly violating her religious conscience.
Sandra Mendoza worked in the pediatrics unit until it was consolidated with women’s health and began offering contraception and abortion referrals. Citing her Catholic beliefs, she petitioned for an accommodation from the hospital. Her attorney, Noel Sterett, says what was offered in July of last year, either inspecting food or nursing home work, amounted to a demotion.
“You’re no longer going to be in pediatric care. You’re no longer going to be doing what you’ve been training to do, what your calling is to do, and it’s on account of your refusal to provide abortion referral. That’s just a terrible place to put people, especially when there’s less restrictive ways of doing it,” he said.
He said her limited options also violated her rights under the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act and Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act.
“The act broadly and significantly protects the right of medical professionals not to have to engage in this and prohibits public and private institutions from taking any type of negative response or treatment to medical professionals when they exercise their conscientious objections,” he said.
The Winnebago County Health Department said they don’t discuss pending litigation.
An online version of the filing can be found here.