CASECenzon-DeCarlo v. The Mount Sinai Hospital

Client Story
Cathy DeCarlo

Cathy became a nurse to save lives, but her world crumbled around her when her supervisors demanded that she take a life, or lose her job.

Standing in the rubble of her high school in the Philippines just moments after a devastating earthquake, Cathy watched in fascination as medical teams rescued her classmates. That day, she decided to become a nurse.  Her dream of saving lives led her to leave her family and country to move to New York City to work as an operating room nurse.


 

When she was hired in 2004, Cathy made it clear: “I don’t do abortions.” At the time, the hospital assured her she would never have to compromise her devout Catholic faith, but times changed. One morning five years later, Cathy prepared for a common procedure following a miscarriage, only to realize that the procedure was going to be performed on a live pre-born baby at 22 weeks. Horrified, she called the resident doctor on duty, then her supervisor, who told her to call her supervisor.

When that supervisor informed her that Cathy would have to assist with the abortion, Cathy reminded her in tears about her agreement with the hospital. She pointed out that the surgery was labeled a Category II, meaning it could take place anytime over the next six hours – plenty of time to call another nurse. But the supervisor insisted that this was an emergency -- the mother’s life hung in the balance. If 
Cathy didn’t assist in this life-or-death situation, she told her, she would be charged with insubordination and abandoning her patient. Her career would be over.

Cathy decided to trust her supervisors, but as soon as she saw the patient, she knew she made a mistake. The woman’s life was clearly not in danger, but at that point, there was no going back. She watched in horror as the doctor dismembered and removed the bloody limbs, and then she had to account for all the pieces. “It was like something out of a horror film,” she said.

That night, she found Alliance Defending Freedom. Two days later, with the help of Alliance Defending Freedom, she filed complaints against her supervisors for forcing her to violate her faith. After an investigation, Mount Sinai Hospital changed its policies to protect the rights of all medical personnel. Not only can they now object to participating in abortions, they can do so even in an emergency.

Cathy still has nightmares about her horrific experience, but she can rest assured that because of her stand, many other pro-life nurses won’t have to go through what she did.

Find out more about the sanctity of human life
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Summary
A newly completed U.S. Department of Health and Human Services investigation of New York’s Mt. Sinai Hospital has resulted in additional policy and procedure changes to ensure that medical personnel are not forced to participate in abortions. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing a Mt. Sinai nurse requested the HHS Office of Civil Rights investigation after the hospital forced her to assist in an abortion in violation of her religious beliefs in 2009.
News Releases

Mt. Sinai ends forced abortion-participation policy

Sanctity of Life

Mt. Sinai ends forced abortion-participation policy

HHS investigation requested by Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of NY nurse prompts new changes at hospital

Feb 12, 2013 Read More

Nurse forced to assist in abortion seeks to stop dismantling of her conscience protections

Sanctity of Life

Nurse forced to assist in abortion seeks to stop dismantling of her conscience protections

ADF attorneys file motion to intervene in lawsuit that would eliminate N.Y. nurse’s ability to defend herself

Dec 14, 2010 Read More

NY nurse forced to participate in abortion files additional suit against Mt. Sinai Hospital

Sanctity of Life

NY nurse forced to participate in abortion files additional suit against Mt. Sinai Hospital

ADF attorneys file state lawsuit alongside ongoing federal suit

Apr 29, 2010 Read More

ADF rebuts NY hospital’s claim that pro-life nurse can’t sue

Sanctity of Life

ADF rebuts NY hospital’s claim that pro-life nurse can’t sue

ADF attorneys respond to claims of Mount Sinai Hospital

Aug 19, 2009 Read More

NY nurse threatened, forced to assist in late-term abortion

Sanctity of Life

NY nurse threatened, forced to assist in late-term abortion

ADF attorneys file lawsuit against hospital for violating Christian nurse’s rights of conscience

Jul 22, 2009 Read More
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Documents
https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/cenzon-decarlo-v.-the-mount-sinai-hospital/cenzon-decarlo-v-the-mount-sinai-hospital---results-of-hhs-investigation.pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/cenzon-decarlo-v.-the-mount-sinai-hospital/cenzon-decarlo-v-the-mount-sinai-hospital---new-york-state-appellate-opinion.pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/cenzon-decarlo-v.-the-mount-sinai-hospital/cenzon-decarlo-v-the-mount-sinai-hospital---hhs-letter-agreeing-to-investigate.pdf?sfvrsn=8https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/cenzon-decarlo-v.-the-mount-sinai-hospital/cenzon-decarlo-v-the-mount-sinai-hospital---2nd-circuit-opinion.pdf?sfvrsn=8https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/cenzon-decarlo-v.-the-mount-sinai-hospital/cenzon-decarlo-v-the-mount-sinai-hospital---appellant-brief.pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/cenzon-decarlo-v.-the-mount-sinai-hospital/cenzon-decarlo-v-the-mount-sinai-hospital---state-complaint.pdf?sfvrsn=8https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/cenzon-decarlo-v.-the-mount-sinai-hospital/cenzon-decarlo-v-the-mount-sinai-hospital---adf-letter-to-u-s-dept-of-hhs.pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/cenzon-decarlo-v.-the-mount-sinai-hospital/cenzon-decarlo-v-the-mount-sinai-hospital---adf-response-to-mt-sinai-hospital.pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/cenzon-decarlo-v.-the-mount-sinai-hospital/cenzon-decarlo-v-the-mount-sinai-hospital---federal-brief.pdf?sfvrsn=8https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/cenzon-decarlo-v.-the-mount-sinai-hospital/cenzon-decarlo-v-the-mount-sinai-hospital---federal-pi-brief.pdf?sfvrsn=8https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/cenzon-decarlo-v.-the-mount-sinai-hospital/cenzon-decarlo-v-the-mount-sinai-hospital---federal-complaint.pdf?sfvrsn=8
Court Title Date
Administrative Agency
Results of HHS investigation Feb 01 2013
Appellate Court
New York State appellate opinion Dec 19 2012
Administrative Agency
HHS letter agreeing to investigate Dec 10 2010
Appellate Court
2nd Circuit opinion Nov 23 2010
Appellate Court
Appellant brief May 05 2010
State Supreme Court
State complaint Apr 12 2010
Administrative Agency
ADF letter to U.S. Dept. of HHS Mar 08 2010
Trial Court
ADF response to Mt. Sinai Hospital Aug 17 2009
Trial Court
Federal brief Aug 10 2009
Trial Court
Federal PI brief Jul 29 2009
Trial Court
Federal complaint Jul 17 2009

Commentary

Resources

Video: Cathi Cenzon-DeCarlo at press conference in favor of the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (2013-03-05)

Biographies