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Lawsuit: Catholic Nurse Forced to Assist in Late-Term Abortion

5 years ago
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A Catholic nurse in New York claims she was forced in May to participate in the abortion of a 22-week-old fetus against her moral convictions. The nurse alleges in a lawsuit that Mount Sinai Hospital officials knew of her objections to abortion, but told her to assist in the procedure or face disciplinary action, including possible loss of her job and her nursing license.
The nurse, Catherina Cenzon DeCarlo, 35, said in a statement provided by her attorney: "After I was forced to assist this abortion against my religious objection, I felt violated and betrayed, like I had been raped. I couldn't believe that this could happen in the United States, where freedom is held sacred."

The Alliance Defense Fund, a legal alliance of Christian attorneys, filed the lawsuit against Mount Sinai Hospital on behalf of DeCarlo, who is still working there.

Jeanne Bernard of Mount Sinai Hospital said she would give the hospital's response in an e-mail. Later, I received an e-mail from another hospital representative: "Mount Sinai cannot comment on pending litigation."

DeCarlo, whose uncle is a Catholic bishop in her native Philippines, joined Mount Sinai in 2004. She said she told officials in an interview and later in writing that she would not be willing to participate in abortions.
So, when the late-term abortion came on the roster, DeCarlo said she reminded hospital officials of her feelings on the issue. "I pleaded with my supervisors to honor the religious objection that they knew about for years," DeCarlo said through her attorney, Matt Bowman.

She said she was told that if she did not participate, she would be charged with insubordination and patient abandonment, the lawsuit says.

DeCarlo says that Mount Sinai has a group of nurses who were available and who are willing to participate in abortions and that "one supervisor even prohibited calling other nurses to cover the case."
One issue is whether the unnamed pregnant woman was experiencing a medical emergency. "Despite the fact that the patient was not in crisis at the time of the surgery, the hospital insisted on (DeCarlo's) participation in the procedure on the grounds that it was an "emergency" even though the procedure was not classified as such," the Alliance said in statement.
According to the lawsuit, the scheduled abortion was labeled as a "Category II," the classification for operations needing to take place within six hours, not a "Category I," which is the classification for "patients requiring immediate surgical intervention for life- or limb-threatening conditions."

Also, the lawsuit asserts that the hospital violated federal law by threatening DeCarlo's job and nursing license unless she would assist in the procedure.
Among other things, DeCarlo is asking that Mount Sinai refrain from mandating employees to assist in abortion over their conscientious objection, pursuant to the Church Amendment (42 U.S.C. § 300a7(c), which protects the "right of conscience" of pro-life health care workers employed by recipients of federal funding from the Department of Health and Human Services.

"I believe lots of nurses and doctors throughout the country are being pressured to assist abortion, and I want them to know they are not alone, and they should speak up for their rights of conscience," DeCarlo's statement said.

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