Hospital Says Nurse Forced to Participate in Abortion Has No Legal Rights

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 19, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Hospital Says Nurse Forced to Participate in Abortion Has No Legal Rights

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 19
, 2009

New York, NY ( — New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital believes that a pro-life nurse has no legal rights to defend herself in court after she was forced to participate in an abortion. Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed a lawsuit last week for Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo who says she told the hospital about her objections.

Since 2004, officials at Mount Sinai Hospital knew that Cenzon-DeCarlo had deeply-felt pro-life views and would not consent to assisting in an abortion.

That didn’t stop hospital officials from threatening her with disciplinary measures if she did not honor a last-minute summons to assist in a scheduled late-term abortion.

Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed a lawsuit last month for Cenzon-DeCarlo and now they filed a brief on Monday in response to Mount Sinai Hospital’s claim she can’t defend herself.

Attorneys for the hospital submitted a brief to the court Aug. 10 arguing that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the federal law at issue “does not grant individual litigants a private right of action.”

ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman told that’s incorrect.

“Pro-life nurses shouldn’t be forced to assist in abortions against their beliefs. Nonetheless, Mount Sinai Hospital is multiplying its injustices against nurse Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo," he said Wednesday.

“First it disregarded Cathy’s conscience; now it argues she can’t go to court to defend her rights. Mount Sinai Hospital does not have the right to disregard federal law and then refuse to face the consequences of its actions," he added.

In its response, ADF attorneys noted that “Mount Sinai’s compulsion violates 42 U.S.C. § 300a-7(c), ‘the Church Amendment’ (named after Senator Frank Church)."

"This law provides that no recipient of federal health funds may discriminate in the employment or privileges of its health care personnel because of their religious objection to abortion," the brief explained.

"The law contains no exception letting Mount Sinai compel assistance based on their unbridled judgment that abortion is an ‘emergency.’ Mount Sinai’s actions are a quintessential example of discriminating in employment and privileges on condition that Mrs. DeCarlo violate her objection to abortion," the ADF legal document adds.

The ADF brief goes on to explain that “Mount Sinai compounds its contempt of the law” by denying that the law allows Cenzon-DeCarlo to defend her conscience rights.

It points out that the federal law involves all of the factors that the U.S. Supreme Court has used to recognize such rights and that Congress obviously intended to protect individuals from discrimination under the law it created.

Cenzon-DeCarlo previously told the New York Post about what it felt like to have to participate in an abortion against her wishes.

"It felt like a horror film unfolding," she said. "I couldn’t believe that this could happen."

She told the newspaper she has been having nightmares and trouble sleeping ever since the May 24 incident.

"I felt violated and betrayed," Cenzon-DeCarlo said about how officials at the hospital treated her after knowing her faith and values.

Now, she hopes the lawsuit will be sufficient to restore protection for her religious and moral views about abortion in the workplace.

"I emigrated to this country in the belief that here religious freedom is sacred," she said. "Doctors and nurses shouldn’t be forced to abandon their beliefs and participate in abortion in order to keep their jobs."
Despite the fact that the patient was not in crisis at the time of the surgery, the hospital insisted on her participation in the procedure on the grounds that it was an “emergency."

As ADF noted, federal laws prohibit hospitals that receive federal funds from forcing employees to participate in abortion procedures under any circumstances but that apparently didn’t stop Mount Sinai Hospital from asking Cenzon-DeCarlo to join in the abortion of the 22-week-old unborn child.

According to the lawsuit, the abortion was not an emergency situation.

“Category I” is the classification reserved for “patients requiring immediate surgical intervention for life or limb threatening conditions," but the abortion in this case was classified as a “Category II." That is a determination for surgeries needing to take place within six hours.

ADF says that means the hospital had no reason to insist upon Cenzon-DeCarlo’s assistance in the abortion in order to protect the patient.

Bowman said plenty of time existed to find a different nurse to assist, especially since evidence indicates that the patient’s condition did not rise even to a Category II. The lawsuit adds that Cenzon-DeCarlo observed no indications that the abortion was a medical emergency while in the operating room.

ADF attorneys filed the complaint in Cenzon-DeCarlo v. The Mount Sinai Hospital with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

They are also requesting a preliminary injunction that would order the hospital to honor Cenzon-DeCarlo’s religious objection against assisting in abortion and refrain from retaliation against her while the case moves forward.

Related web sites:
Alliance Defense Fund –

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