Vanderbilt Maintains Policy, But Religious Right Declares Victory

The other day, we noted that the Alliance Defense Fund had filed a complaint against Vanderbilt University, falsely claiming that the university was “requiring nursing residents to participate in abortion procedures” when, in fact, it was merely requiring residents to agree to “provide compassionate care” to women who had or would be undergoing such procedures, not to participate in the actual procedure.

University spokespeople made that distinction quite clear, but the ADF didn’t care and kept asserting that university was forcing students to perform abortions … so Vanderbilt issued a clarification [PDF] in an attempt to clear up the ADF’s intentional misrepresentation:

There has been some publicity in the media and on the Internet that reflects a misconception of Vanderbilt University’s policy and practice regarding health care providers (e.g., physicians, nurses and trainees) participating in the termination of a patient’s pregnancy. While Vanderbilt expects all health care providers, including nurses who participate in the Nurse Residency Program’s Women’s Health Track, to provide compassionate care to all patients, no health care provider is required to participate in a procedure terminating a pregnancy if such participation would be contrary to an individual’s religious beliefs or moral convictions.

So the policy is the same as it has always been, but you wouldn’t know that from reading right-wing coverage of the clarification … mainly because ADF continues to lie about it:

Vanderbilt University abandons illegal policy that forced nursing residents to sign abortion pledge

Vanderbilt University Wednesday modified its nurse residency application so that it no longer requires applicants to pledge that they will participate in abortion procedures. The university made the announcement in an e-mail to applicants one day after the Alliance Defense Fund filed a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services.

“Christians and other pro-life members of the medical community shouldn’t be forced to participate in abortions to pursue their profession. That’s what federal law says, and that’s why Vanderbilt is doing the right thing in changing its policy and application,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “We will be monitoring the situation to make sure the university continues to comply with the law. It’s ironic that Vanderbilt changed its policy one day after denying that it required the pledge.”

And, of course, the rest of the Right is blindly repeating ADF’s spin, claiming Vanderbilt has dumpeddropped, backtracked, and backed down from the policy and “will no longer force its nursing students to assist with abortions.”

Vanderbilt never did and nothing has changed, but the Religious Right is treating this entire charade as some sort of massive victory.