November 1, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A dozen nurses have filed a lawsuit against a New Jersey hospital, claiming that the hospital told them that they would either have to assist during abortions, or face the axe.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the nurses by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF).

“Pro-life nurses shouldn’t be forced to assist in abortions against their beliefs,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “No less than 12 nurses have encountered threats to their jobs at this hospital ever since a policy change required them to participate in the abortions regardless of their religious objections. That is flatly illegal.”

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Federal law prohibits hospitals that receive certain federal funds from forcing employees to participate in abortions. The hospital run by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) receives approximately $60 million in federal funds annually. In addition, New Jersey law states, “No person shall be required to perform or assist in the performance of an abortion or sterilization.”

According to the ADF, in September, UMDNJ initiated a policy change and began telling Same Day Surgery Unit nurses that they must assist abortions. The hospital reportedly imposed the policy on the nurses in October and repeatedly threatened that they must assist abortions or be terminated.

The lawsuit charges that when one nurse objected to assisting abortions on the grounds of her religious beliefs, a supervisor responded that UMDNJ has “no regard for religious beliefs” of nurses who object to participating in abortions.

The hospital scheduled the nurses to begin training to assist abortions on Oct. 14. The training involves actually assisting surgical abortions.

The hospital was contacted Monday by Fox News, but said it was unaware of the lawsuit, and had no comment.