Stephanie Carter is a Christian and a nurse practitioner at the Olin E. Teague Veterans' Center in Temple, Texas, where she has worked for 23 years.
On September 9, the VA implemented a rule requiring providers at VA facilities to perform abortion services. The VA claims it offers religious exemptions, but Carter's attorneys at First Liberty Institute say the rule is being enforced without taking their employees' religious objections into consideration.
"She requested a religious accommodation twice and was told no process exists," reports Danielle Runyan, senior counsel at First Liberty Institute. "Now she is suffering a crisis because she doesn't know 'do I violate my religious beliefs, or do I lose my job for not complying with the rule?'"
Carter also stands to face criminal and civil liability under Texas's pro-life law that prohibits most abortions after the unborn baby's heartbeat can be detected -- at roughly six weeks into pregnancy. The law also prohibits individuals from assisting a woman in obtaining an illegal abortion.
Carter argues in her lawsuit that she "cannot perform, prescribe, or counsel for abortion services because of her sincerely held religious beliefs that unborn babies are created in the image of God and should be protected."
First Liberty is waiting to hear back from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.
"We have put on file a motion for preliminary injunction," Runyan relays. "What we are asking for is injunctive relief to stop the rule from being enforced at the facility where Ms. Carter works."
Comprised of 171 medical centers and 1,113 outpatient clinics, the VA operates the largest integrated healthcare network in the world with 371,000 professionals and support staff.