To follow on Matt Bowman’s post, I am hoping Governor Christie will assert himself on this issue of forcing nurses to perform abortions. The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey is a state institution, created by the state legislature in 1970. And, as Matt asserts, it is a lawless hospital — and not just because coercing nurses to assist abortions against their conscientious objections is a blatant violation of state and federal law. Historically, UMDNJ is a corrupt institution.
Not long ago, UMDNJ was the target of a federal investigation involving Medicare fraud, no-bid contracts (sometimes entailing no work, either), illegal campaign contributions and lobbyist payments (a no-no for a public institution), and thoroughly politicized decision making (as opposed to judgments made on the basis of sound medicine). You can read some of the gory details here. As is common in cases involving corporate entities — where an indictment would be a death-warrant, inevitably harming innocent employees as well as the actual wrongdoers — the United States Attorney for New Jersey opted to offer UMDNJ a deferred prosecution agreement. The U.S. Attorney’s name was Chris Christie. In the now-governor’s customarily blunt style, he had this to say at the time (December 2005):
It is my policy to inform targets of a federal investigation that they are targets. Now I’m here to tell you that the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey is a target of a federal investigation. I have enough evidence to indict the university.
We no longer have any faith in your ability to fix any of the problems that have led to the conduct in the case.
But let there be no mistake about it and I want to tell each one of you face to face — if we cannot reach an agreement [on the terms of a deferred prosecution], I will do my job and prosecute this entity.
It is not my intention to be critical of Governor Christie. To the contrary, I can attest that he has been a very busy, basically sleepless guy the last several days — a real champ in riding herd over the public utilities that are over-stretched trying to deal with the aftermath of a storm that turned out to be very damaging and left hundreds of thousands of people without power. For all I know, the situation at UMDNJ has not been brought to his attention yet.
Nevertheless, this is a very serious matter, made all the more so by the fact that the hospital has a history of criminality and of currying political favor. As Matt points out, UMDNJ is heavily reliant on federal funding from what is the most militantly pro-abortion administration in history. (According to the UMDNJ website, the amount is about three times the staggering $60 million per annum that Matt posits. UMDNJ represents that in fiscal year 2010, federal agencies provided 46 percent of its whopping $372.5 million in external funding awards — apparently including two-thirds of its $195.7 million in external research funding awards.) With respect, I’d suggest that the governor must assert himself, light a public fire in his inimitable way under the right derrieres, and make sure both that these nurses’ freedom of conscience is protected and that the people who put this noxious policy in place are held accountable.