New York Hospital Sued for Trying to Force Nurse to Help With Late-Term Abortion

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
July 22
, 2009

New York, NY (LifeNews.com) — A New York City hospital is the subject of a lawsuit after allegations that it attempted to force a nurse to participate in a late-term abortion. Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed a lawsuit yesterday against Mount Sinai Hospital on behalf of a Catholic nurse who says she told the hospital about her objections.

Since 2004, officials at Mount Sinai Hospital knew that Cathy 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.

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.”

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.

ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman talked with LifeNews.com about the case.

“Pro-life nurses shouldn’t be forced to assist in abortions against their beliefs,” he said. “Requiring a devout, Catholic nurse to participate in a late-term abortion in order to remain employed is illegal, unethical, and violates her rights of conscience.”

“Federal law requires that employers who receive funding from tax dollars must not compel employees to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs, but this nurse’s objections fell on deaf ears,” Bowman added.

“Chasing away workers from the health care field is disastrous health care policy,” Bowman continued. “An individual’s conscience is likely what brought them to the health care field. Denying or coercing their conscience will likely drive them right out.”

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.

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