Jill Stanek, the nurse who revealed two years ago that newborns who were alive after abortions in her hospital were left to die without medical care, has been fired. The hospital has not specified the reason for her termination.
Stanek, a labor and delivery nurse for six years at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois, says she was fired for criticizing the facility's abortion policies.
Stanek has twice testified before congressional committees. Since going public against such abortion practices, Stanek has spearheaded protests and prayer vigils outside the hospital and has appeared on national television and radio programs. A hospital spokesman said the August firing is not related to Stanek's views but did not return calls for comment.
Stanek's lawyer, Mathew Staver of the Liberty Counsel, says the firing was designed to silence Stanek. Staver says the hospital accused Stanek of making "false, defamatory, and misleading statements" this summer when she testified before Congress and again when she was interviewed on Jerry Falwell's Listen America program.
"They retaliated against her for her public exposure for what she reasonably believed was illegal activity," says Staver, who is planning to challenge Stanek's firing as wrongful termination.
Under a 1981 Illinois Supreme Court decision, whistleblowers who "reasonably believe a crime is occurring" are protected under the law from retaliatory discharge, Staver said. Under Illinois law, it is a crime to deny medical care to babies who are born showing signs of life.
Stanek has often recounted her experience of having to watch the death of an aborted premature baby who had Down syndrome ("Lives Measured in Minutes," CT, Nov. 13, 2000). Stanek says physicians caused an "induced-labor abortion" by inserting an irritating ulcer drug into the birth canal. After the abortion, Stanek comforted the dying baby for 45 minutes.
Advocate Christ—affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Church of Christ—has tightened its abortion policy since Stanek's public disclosures. The hospital, which performed 16 induced-labor abortions last year, now says it will do the procedure only when the mother's health is threatened, in cases of rape or incest, or when the baby has a fatal anomaly.
Stanek told Congress in July that two of the 16 who were aborted last year at Advocate Christ were completely healthy. Advocate Christ now has a "comfort room" for such newborns before their death. Previously, some breathing aborted infants had been placed in a "soiled utility room."
Stanek told members of Congress, "If a hospital named 'Christ' does not willingly stop committing infanticide but handles public and legal scrutiny by merely trying to make those whose lives they're snuffing out more 'comfortable,' I have grave concerns."
Stanek's testimony also helped spearhead the federal Born Alive Infant Protection Act, which has been passed by the House ("Fetal Harm Bill Moves to Senate," CT, May 21). This summer, legislators attached the measure to the Patients' Bill of Rights, which passed both chambers and is now in conference. The legislation would establish that an infant "who is born alive at any stage of development" is a person for purposes of federal law.
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Related Christianity Today articles include:
Fetal Harm Bill Moves to Senate | Legislation is first of several bills backed by prolife groups. (May 21, 2001)
Lives Measured in Minutes | New legislation would offer greater care for premature newborns near death. (Nov. 13, 2000)
House Passes Bill to Protect Babies Outside the Womb | Protection for infants who survive abortions draws 380-15 approval. (Sept. 28, 2000)
Visit the Advocate Christ Hospital and Medical Center homepage.
See information about the Born Alive Infant Protection Act bill available at the Library of Congress' Thomas site.
According to CWA, another nurse has come forward to show the tragedy exists beyond Christ Hospital.
The hospital was recognized two years in a row as one of the Top 100 hospitals in the nation by HCIA, a Baltimore-based health care information company, and The Health Network, an Internet and media company focused on health information. The awards were given in 1998 and 1999 before the live-abortion debate at the hospital came into focus.
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