Nationally Renown Pro-Life Nurse Fired From Christ Hospital Job
- Nationally Renown Pro-Life Nurse Fired From Christ Hospital Job
Source: Chicago Tribune, Daily Southtown; September 2, 2001
Chicago, IL -- Two years after she first ccame into the national spotlight
over her employer's "live birth abortion" policy, pro-life advocate Jill
Stanek said Sunday that she has been fired from her nursing job at Christ
Hospital and Medical Center in the Chicago suburb of Oak Lawn, Illinois.
Hospital officials said the discharge Friday had nothing to do with the
delivery room nurse's pro-life views, and Stanek declined to further
discuss what her manager or the human resources department head told her
Friday until she has a chance to talk with her attorney.
Stanek has criticized the hospital since 1999 and has continued to give
frequent media interviews to criticize the hospital's rare use of
labor-induced abortion. She was suspended once for leaking confidential
papers to the media, she said, and twice has been put on "final warning"
probation after breaking an unspecified rule in her employment contract.
A major turn of events took place in February of 2000 when Nurse Stanek
was forced to appear before a hospital Board of Review where she it was
alleged that she had, "contributed to a negative working environment
because of her pro-life activism." She responded that hospital policy,
"limited her rights and entitlement to free speech." She won that round
when the board agreed to revise her evaluation, but let stand an
As part of the abortion procedure, doctors artificially deliver an unborn
child in the second trimester if they detect a severe abnormality that
would prevent her from surviving. But the abortion procedure can also
occasionally result in unborn children living for as long as an hour
outside the womb and hospital staff leave them to die.
In July, Stanek testified on the issue before the U.S. House Judiciary
Committee in favor of the pro-life Born Alive Infants Protection Act. Two
weeks ago, a Chicago newspaper and the Pro-Life Infonet highlighted her
history of activism against the hospital.
When she returned to work Friday from vacation, Stanek was told she was
fired and escorted from the building, she said.
"It couldn't be coincidence this happened right after the article," Stanek
However, hospital spokesman Michael Maggio said the article had nothing to
do with the decision to let Stanek go. "She was the main reason our
hospital became the center of attention in the abortion debate," Maggio
said. "But that had nothing to do with it."
"The article was no precipitating factor. I can tell you that much. ...
The article is a non-issue," Maggio said. "She no longer works at Christ
Medical Center. How that decision was reached, I was not involved."
Maggio declined to explain why Stanek was fired, saying that personnel
files are confidential.
Stanek said she had been on "final warning" at Christ Hospital because she
had encouraged people to picket a doctor who performed abortions. "I
suppose it was a surprise and not a surprise," Stanek said.
Stanek started at the hospital in 1993 and wasn't aware at first that the
hospital performed labor-induced abortions. When she witnessed an aborted
baby with Down syndrome that survived outside the womb for 45 minutes, she
alerted hospital officials, thinking something went wrong, she said.
In 1999, after consulting her pastor, she complained to the Illinois
attorney general's office. Investigators concluded that the hospital
violated no state laws.
But soon after, the hospital's parent, Advocate Health Care, tightened its
policies to no longer permit abortions on unborn children with non-lethal
birth defects like Down syndrome or spina bifida.
The controversy spurred pro-life state Sen. Patrick J. O'Malley of Palos
Park -- now a candidate for the GOP nomination for governor -- to
introduce a package of bills in the legislature that would have given
"born-alive" infants a right to life. After being passed in the Illinois
Senate, it was killed in a House committee.
"Jill Stanek is one of the most courageous women I have ever met," said
O'Malley, a former member of the hospital's governing council who resigned
his post because of the controversy. "I'm astounded they fired such a
talented professional. They're losing one of their best."
Christ Hospital has never performed elective abortions, Maggio said.
Currently it does the abortion procedure in cases of rape, incest, where
the health of the mother is threatened or if fatal abnormalities are
The hospital typically performs only 15 to 20 labor-induced abortions out
of more than 4,000 deliveries each year, said Rev. Larry Easterling, vice
president of Christ Hospital. But he claimed the practice is common at
hospitals across the nation.
Stanek said that her fight against abortions at Christ Hospital will not
"I will continue to speak out on behalf of the babies who were aborted
alive at Christ," she said. "I'll continue to do what I can to stop the
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