Human Rights

Pro-life woman denied employment by Florida health center

A Florida health center has allegedly refused an applicant employment based on her pro-life view and unwillingness to prescribe contraception that could cause the death of a human embryo. In a federal lawsuit filed by Alliance Defending Freedom, attorneys note that the human resources director of Tampa Family Health Centers questioned applicant Sara Hellwege about her involvement with the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a pro-life organization.

When Hellwege, who submitted an application for a nurse-midwife position, confirmed her membership with AAPLOG, the director notified her in an e-mail that she was rejected due to her involvement with the organization.

Federal and state law make it clear that being pro-abortion cannot be a prerequisite for employment, nor can federally funded facilities force nurses to assist with practices that could lead to an abortion,” said Matt Bowman, Senior Legal Counsel with ADF.

Attorneys note that the health center violated multiple federal laws by refusing Hellwege employment because of her religious and pro-life views. The lawsuit, Hellwege v. Tampa Family Health Centers, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, 

ADF also filed complaints on behalf of Hellwege with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission field office in Tampa and with the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Tampa Family Health Centers are federally funded. 

Willingness to commit an abortion cannot be a litmus test for employment,” said ADF Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden. “All we are asking is for the health center to obey the law and not make a nurse’s employment contingent upon giving up her respect for life.”

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