Skip to main content
Hero Image

There Was a Familiar Face at the State of the Union Address

By Sarah Kramer posted on:
January 31, 2018

Before 2009, Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo probably never imagined that she would be an outspoken advocate for conscience rights in healthcare – or that she would be attending a State of the Union address because of that advocacy.

She also never imagined that she would be forced to participate in an abortion, a practice that violates her religious beliefs and directly contradicts her reason for wanting to go into healthcare – to save lives, not to take them.

But that’s exactly what happened in 2009. Cathy was working as a nurse at a New York hospital, where she was ordered to participate in an abortion or be charged with insubordination and abandoning her patient – which would end her career. In the days after, she reached out to Alliance Defending Freedom, and we filed a lawsuit on her behalf. After a lengthy legal battle, the hospital agreed to change its policies to respect the religious beliefs of its employees so that no other employee would have to go through what Cathy experienced.

Because of her stand and her advocacy, Speaker Paul Ryan invited her to attend President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address as his guest.

“It’s wrong that Cathy and so many others have been intimidated into assisting with abortions, which is why the Trump administration’s expanded conscience protections are a welcomed change,” said Speaker Ryan in a statement.

And while the Trump Administration has taken some important steps to protect the freedom of conscience for healthcare professionals – including by creating the Division on Conscience and Religious Freedom in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – many threats still remain.

In fact, ADF is going before the U.S. Supreme Court in March to defend pro-life pregnancy centers in California, where a state law forces them to post signs that advertise for the abortion industry, even providing a number women can call to get a free or low-cost abortion.

These pregnancy centers exist to provide pregnant women with the help, hope, and resources they need to give their baby life. This law directly contradicts their mission and their reason for existing. ADF is fighting similar laws in Illinois and Hawaii, and courts have already struck down or mostly invalidated similar laws in Maryland, New York, and Texas.

In addition, the State of Washington has adopted regulations that force pharmacists to stock and dispense drugs that end the lives of unborn babies. In another case, a state law forced doctors to counsel their six-month terminal patients that physician-assisted suicide is an option (or refer them to someone for that counseling). Catholic hospitals have been sued because they do not perform abortions or sex-reassignment surgeries due to their beliefs.

The bottom line is that those who have dedicated their careers to saving lives should never be forced to participate in or promote taking a life against their beliefs.

And ADF is dedicated to defending their rights to live and work consistently with their faith. Stay up to date on the latest cases and issues where ADF is defending the freedom of conscience in healthcare. 

Send Me Email Updates

Sarah Kramer

Sarah Kramer

Digital Content Specialist

Sarah worked as an investigative reporter before joining the Alliance Defending Freedom team.


Watch: Hospice Took Away His Food and Water So ADF Stepped In to Save His Life

Jesse’s wife had decided to end his life through an agonizing process of dehydration and starvation. Thankfully, Jesse’s family members—and ADF—fought for his life.


Human Life of Every Age and Ability Is Valuable. Biden Doesn’t Seem to Understand That.

All of human life, from conception to natural death, holds equal and inalienable worth as it all bears the image of its Creator.


The COVID-19 Response Affirms the Dignity of the Sick and Elderly, Contradicting These State Laws

As these eight states and D.C. rush to protect the vulnerable populations that the coronavirus hits hardest their laws simultaneously target these populations.