A major New York City hospital has changed its guidelines and implemented new procedures after a nurse sued for forcing her to participation in an abortion in violation of her religious faith.
The resolution came in a case brought by Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo against New York’s Mt. Sinai hospital.
The Alliance Defending Freedom said a report from the federal Department of Health and Human Services found that the hospital had changed its policies and procedures as a result of the complaint to the point that it met federal requirements.
The new policy states: “It is the legal right of any individual to refuse to participate in these (abortion) procedures.”
The policy outlines how someone confronted with a doctor’s plan for an abortion should notify the proper personnel so that the procedure is staffed.
“In an emergency situation and where members of the team refuse to participate, it is essential that the process to find alternative personnel is started as soon as possible and that a manager senior to the covering clinical nurse manager is informed at the time this information becomes known.”
ADF Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman said pro-life medical personnel “shouldn’t be forced to participate in abortions, and the new policies and procedures at Mt. Sinai reflect that.”
“The hospital seems to have decided to do the right thing and respect the conscience rights of its employees, who are protected by both federal and state law,” he said. “We will continue to monitor the situation to make sure that the new policy is followed.”
As the federal investigation was developing, Mt. Sinai agreed to put in writing that it will abide by federal conscience protection laws. It also promised to train employees about the hospital’s obligation to the laws and how to properly keep records of who receives an abortion and who rejects the procedure.
ADF said administrators at Mt. Sinai had threatened DeCarlo with disciplinary measures in May 2009 if she did not honor a last-minute summons to assist in a scheduled late-term abortion.
“Despite the fact that the patient was apparently 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,’ even though the procedure was not classified by the hospital as such. The hospital has known of the Catholic nurse’s religious objections to abortion since 2004,” ADF reported.
ADF attorneys asked for the HHS involvement as part of their work on the case on behalf of DeCarlo. The suit alleges religious discrimination and intentionally inflicting emotional distress on an individual.
The nurse’s cases remains ongoing, ADF said.
The original case against Mount Sinai Medical Center explained: “Compelling Mrs. DeCarlo to assist in this abortion against her religious beliefs exposed Mrs. DeCarlo to brutal psychological harm. By assisting she was forced to witness the killing of a 22-week-old preborn child by dismemberment.
“Mount Sinai forced Mrs. DeCarlo to watch the doctor remove the bloody arms and legs of the child from its mother’s body by with forceps, and then after the surgery, to view the bloody body parts in the specimen cup, put saline in the cup, and take it to the specimen area,” the case alleges.
It argues the doctor’s actions violated the hospital’s own protocols. The abortion was not so urgent, the suit contends, that it would have required the nurse’s assistance, and there was more than enough time to summon another nurse.
The case alleges the nurse was threatened with charges of “insubordination and patient abandonment.”
“A charge of patient abandonment would severely jeopardize Mrs. DeCarlo’s employment and her nursing license and consequently her career and her and her family’s livelihood,” the court documents explain.
WND previously reported on a similar conscience rights case brought by a nurse in Louisiana.
That case, on behalf of Toni Lemly, who had worked in the St. Tammany Parish Hospital, alleged she was demoted for objecting to dispensing the abortion pill.
Since the DeCarlo case developed, the White House has introduced regulations for its Obamacare health care makeover that would require individuals of faith to fund abortifacients for employees through their health care system – even though they may have objections because of their religious beliefs.
Dozens of cases have been brought to court over the issue, with several courts already siding with the individual’s faith concerns.
Obama administration attorneys have argued that the government has the right to force business owners to violate their faith and pay for abortifacients.