For 10 years Jill Stanek worked as a labor and delivery nurse at Christ Hospital and Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois, a place Jill thought she'd avoid the ethical dilemmas some medical professionals face.
But in 1996, when Jill learned that a baby with Down syndrome was to be aborted, she realized her ethics would indeed be challenged. "When I asked questions, I was told a prolife nurse didn't have to assist with 'therapeutic' abortions—abortions allowed because the child is deemed unworthy of life," she says.
At first Jill didn't have the courage to do anything, but in early 1999, when she saw a nurse going to a soiled utility room to drop off an aborted-but-still-living Down syndrome baby, she couldn't stand by any longer. "I knew I either had to quit, or stay and fight."
Jill decided to stay and begin Advocates Against Abortion. Its goal is to eliminate abortion at Christ Hospital and other hospitals also under the parent company, Advocate Health Care Systems. Partici-pants in the group stay in-formed of hospital procedures, lead prayer vigils, and rally others to support the cause through demonstrations and prayer. Jill and her pastor, who helped Jill start her organization, asked more than 70 prolife groups and churches to write letters to Christ Hospi-tal urging an end to live-birth abortions. The hospital re-sponded to the letters, insisting they only performed abortions for "therapeutic" reasons and that the babies would die on their own anyway.
Then, in October 1999, Jill was suspended for refusing to sign Christ Hospital's annual confidentiality agreement, realizing it would muzzle her from speaking out against its abortion practices. When the media caught wind of Jill's suspension, the hospital backed down and altered their abortion guidelines to no longer allow "therapeutic abortions" on babies with Down syndrome or spina bifida. Jill wasn't appeased. "I'd wonder when they were going to fire me," she explains. "But I didn't fear the future. In a paraphrase of Revelation 3:8-10, God says, 'You've been faithful to my name. Now I'll keep you safe. And your enemies will know I was with you.'"
On August 31, 2001, Christ Hospital did, indeed, terminate Jill. Since then, Jill still promotes Advocates Against Abortion and works to pass state and federal legislation to protect babies from being aborted alive. Through letter writing, speaking, lobbying, and boycotting, Jill continues to fight the battle against abortion. "I want to be a visual reminder of right and wrong, and a defender of innocent babies."
Copyright © 2002 by the author or Christianity Today/Today's Christian Woman magazine.
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