A federal judge says an agreement has been reached in a lawsuit brought by 12 nurses who claim a New Jersey hospital tried to force them to assist in abortions over their religious and moral objections.

Attorneys for the nurses and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey met with U.S. District Judge Jose Linares in Newark on Thursday and hammered out an agreement.

Linares says the deal allows the nurses to remain in their current positions and doesn't compel them to assist in any part of an abortion procedure -- except in emergencies where no other staff is available.

The nurses said UMDNJ changed its policies this fall and required them to undergo training in assisting abortions or risk losing their jobs. The hospital denied those claims.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)