Sister Dierdre Byrne, a Roman Catholic nun who is also a physician-surgeon and a retired U.S. Army colonel, is suing Washington, D.C. for denying her a religious exemption to its Covid-19 vaccination mandate for health care workers.
Known as “Sister Dede,” Byrne was an Army doctor who did a three-month tour in Afghanistan as a reservist prior to joining the Sisters of the Little Workers of the Sacred Heart. In Washington, she serves as medical director of her convent’s free medical clinic. She also operates an abortion-pill-reversal ministry in the city.
She objects to the mandate on moral grounds because all three vaccines approved for use in the United States “have been tested, developed, or produced with cell lines derived from abortions,” which she says violates her Catholic beliefs, according to a statement from one of her attorneys, Christopher Ferrara, special counsel for the Thomas More Society, a nonprofit law firm focused on religious liberty cases.
The district began requiring health care workers to be vaccinated against the virus that causes Covid-19 in August. Though the policy includes exemptions for medical or religious reasons, Byrne’s application was denied.
“I can’t practice. I’ve closed my clinics for the month. I can’t see patients. I just can’t help anyone,” said Byrne, a board-certified general surgeon and family physician.
Byrne told Arroyo she decided to fight the district in court “because I feel like I’m just a little tip of an arrow of so many people who are being forced to do the same thing.” You can watch her full interview with Arroyo in this video.
The Thomas More Society filed the lawsuit on March 9 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, the district’s. health department, and other district officials are named as defendants….