Midwifery student banned from work placement over pro-life views demands apology from university
A midwifery student banned from her hospital placement over her pro-life views has demanded an apology from university bosses.
Julia Rynkiewicz, 24, an undergraduate at the University of Nottingham, also faced expulsion from her degree and was temporarily suspended from her midwifery course after lecturers raised concerns about her fitness to practice.
Ms Rynkiewicz believes in human rights for every human being, including those not yet born. She is the president of Nottingham Students for Life, a pro-life club on campus, the Nottingham Post reports.
Ms Rynkiewicz faced a fitness to practise hearing on Monday in what is believed to be the first case of its kind - and which is likely to have far-reaching implications for freedom of speech across UK university campuses.
University officials did dismiss the claims against her, meaning she can return to finish her training and degree. However, because of the investigation against her, she has been forced to delay her studies and she will now have to graduate a year later than her classmates. As to be expected, Ms Rynkiewicz, 24, says she has suffered from undue stress and lack of financial support as she was not eligable for student finance while banned from her course.
Now, she is considering legal action against the university.
“I’m willing to take this as far as necessary,” she said. “I think it’s important to remember that being pro-life isn’t incompatible with being a midwife.”
Ms Rynkiewicz said she does not want any other students to go through what she did. She said universities should “be a place where we can speak up about your beliefs and debate with people in a civilized way, so I’m shocked that this happened.”
Bernadette Smyth, head of Precious Life, today commented on the troubling case: "This case is part of a worrying wave of discrimination which we are seeing across the world right now. Pro-life medical staff are facing blatant and hostile discrimination simply for believing that unborn babies are patients who deserve care, too."
Ms Smyth continued, "It is outrageous that a pro-life student, training to be a midwife - going into a career to care for both mothers and their babies - is facing this sort of appalling discrimination. She is right to demand an apology. Pro-life views are worthy of respect in a democratic society, and must not be silenced. We as a society are in real need of healthcare professionals who are passionate about caring for the smallest and weakest members of our society, especially unborn children who are being increasingly targeted."
Ms Smyth concluded, "These deeply concerning cases draw attention to the important of conscience protection laws for all medical staff at a time when, in Northern Ireland, medical staff face the prospect of having to facilitate abortions against their will. Without these laws, medical students can be prevented from practicing, medical workers can lose their jobs and, in some cases, can be prosecuted for telling the truth about the development of the unborn child in the womb.
Going forward, Precious Life will be focusing major energy on lobbying and ensuring that all medical professionals, students, staff and personnel are protected from being forced to go against their beliefs and conscience. It has never been more important to remind medical staff that their duty is to care, not to kill, and to ensure that medical staff are allowed to do their job and to care for both patients in a pregnancy."