New Congressional Bill Would Protect Doctors and Nurses Who Refuse to Assist Abortions

National   |   Erin Parfet   |   Feb 10, 2017   |   10:42AM   |   Washington, DC

A new bill in U.S. Congress would provide healthcare providers who conscientiously object to abortions the right not to participate in the life-destroying procedure, the Catholic News Agency reports.

“This bill is needed to give health care providers the right to provide medical care without violating their deeply held beliefs,” Oklahoma U.S. Senator James Lankford, who co-sponsored the bill, told CNA.

“Conscience is the sacred space of human dignity where persons exercise their sincerely held, reasoned beliefs,” Nebraska U.S. Senator Jeff Fortenberry, another co-sponsor of the bill, commented to the Catholic Daily News. “It is a true poverty that this most cherished American principle is under assault, violating the good of persons and communities.”

In addition, the legislation protects health insurance companies that oppose abortion and would rather not cover the procedure, the report elaborated. California is one example of a state that currently forces health insurance companies to comply with elective abortion coverage, with no exemptions based on religious opposition, according to the report. The Department of Health and Human Services civil rights office declared that faith based organizations in California were mandated to provide abortion coverage.

“Americans have very different views about abortion, but we should not force anyone to participate in it or provide coverage,” Lankford continued.

The bill, the Conscience Protection Act, also was introduced in Congress last year. It passed the U.S. House but was not voted on in the U.S. Senate.

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There have been isolated cases of nurses being coerced into participating in abortion against their wishes in the United States.

One incident occurred at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York involving nurse Catherina Cenzon-DeCarlo, of Brooklyn. The New York Post reported:

“Bosses told the weeping Cenzon-DeCarlo, the patient was 22 weeks into her pregnancy and had preeclampsia, a condition marked by high blood pressure that can lead to seizures or death if left untreated.

The supervisor “claimed that the mother could die if [Cenzon-DeCarlo] did not assist in the [late term] abortion.”

But the nurse, the niece of a Filipino bishop, contends that the patient’s life was not in danger. She argued that the patient was not even on magnesium therapy, a common treatment for preeclampsia, and did not have problems indicating an emergency.

Her pleas were rejected, and instead she was threatened with career-ending charges of insubordination and patient abandonment, according to the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Brooklyn federal court.

Feeling threatened, Cenzon-DeCarlo assisted in the procedure.”

“I felt violated and betrayed,” Cenzon-DeCarlo commented, also reflecting on nightmares and sleeplessness that have occurred after participating in the procedure. “I couldn’t believe that this could happen.”

An investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services, launched in response to the Cenzon-DeCarlo case, revealed that Mount Sinai Hospital would need to change its policies and procedures to accommodate healthcare professionals objecting to abortion, the Catholic Daily News continued.

In the New York Post report, Cenzon-DeCarlo stated: “I emigrated to this country in the belief that here religious freedom is sacred. Doctors and nurses shouldn’t be forced to abandon their beliefs and participate in abortion in order to keep their jobs.”