What's at stake
Freedom of conscience for medical professionals to not be forced to participate in abortion
Protecting Christians from religious discrimination in the workplace
In May 2009, Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo, a nurse at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, was forced to participate in a late-term abortion despite her longstanding religious objection to participating in abortions due to her Catholic beliefs. The hospital threatened Mrs. DeCarlo with the loss of her job and her license if she refused to participate in the abortion. Alliance Defending Freedom filed suit on behalf of Mrs. DeCarlo, and in March 2010 additionally asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to investigate the conscience violations at the hospital, to ensure that rights of conscience would be respected at Mt. Sinai.
In February 2013, following the HHS investigation, Mt. Sinai made changes to its policies and procedures to ensure that medical personnel would not be forced to participate in abortions under any circumstances. As a result of the HHS complaint filed by Alliance Defending Freedom, Mt. Sinai agreed to go further by putting in writing that it will abide by federal conscience protection laws, train employees about the hospital’s obligation to those laws and how to properly keep records of those who are objecting or not objecting to participating in abortions, and update a Human Resource policy to state that the hospital will not engage in any form of employment discrimination based on an employee’s refusal to participate in an abortion.
“Pro-life medical personnel shouldn’t be forced to participate in abortions, and the new policies and procedures at Mt. Sinai reflect that,” said Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “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. We will continue to monitor the situation to make sure that the new policy is followed.”
Our role in this case
Attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom filed suit on behalf of Mrs. DeCarlo. ADF attorneys also asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to conduct an investigation into the practices and procedures of Mt. Sinai. ADF worked with longtime allied attorney Joseph Ruta to represent Mrs. DeCarlo in federal and state court.