Cathy DeCarlo became a nurse to save lives, but her world crumbled around her when her supervisors demanded that she end a life or lose her job. No one should be put in this impossible position, and Alliance Defending Freedom represented Cathy to help ensure that other nurses at her hospital never will.
Cathy’s desire to save lives was sparked years before this event, after she lived through a devastating earthquake in her native Philippines. Standing in the rubble of her high school just moments after the quake, Cathy watched in awe as medical teams rescued her classmates. Those events inspired her to become a nurse so that she could help people, too. Her dream of saving lives led her to leave her family and country to move to New York and work as an operating room nurse.
Confronted with a terrible choice
When she was hired in 2004 by Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, Cathy made it clear: “I don’t do abortions.” At the time, the hospital assured her that she would never have to compromise her devout Catholic faith by assisting in any abortion procedures. But times changed.
One morning five years later, Cathy was told to prepare for a procedure that is common following a miscarriage. Cathy decided to trust her supervisors, but soon she saw the details for the procedure, and she found out that it was going to be an abortion on a live, unborn baby at 22 weeks. Horrified, Cathy called the resident doctor on duty, then her supervisor, who told her to call her supervisor.
When that supervisor informed Cathy that she would have to assist with the abortion, Cathy reminded her in tears about her agreement with the hospital. The abortion 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 Cathy participate. If Cathy didn’t assist in this life-or-death situation, the supervisor told her, she would be charged with insubordination and abandoning her patient. Her career could be over.
They threatened my job and my nursing license if I did not take part in the murder of that baby. I felt violated and betrayed.”
Forced to take part in a “horror film”
The woman’s life was clearly not in danger, but at that point, her supervisor was adamant. Cathy watched in horror after the doctor dismembered and removed the bloody limbs, when she had to account for all the pieces. Cathy later recalled that the appalling scene resembled a horror movie.
That night, she found Alliance Defending Freedom. A few weeks later, with the help of ADF, she filed a lawsuit against Mount Sinai Hospital for forcing her to violate her faith. She also filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), citing Mt. Sinai’s blatant workplace discrimination. As a result of the lawsuit and the HHS investigation, Mount Sinai Hospital changed its policies to protect the rights of all medical personnel. Now, nurses cannot be forced to participate in any abortions, even in the event of an “emergency.”
“I still remember the 22-week-old baby’s twisted and torn arms, legs, and feet. It was like a horror film unfolding.”
Cathy still experienced nightmares long after her horrific experience, and sadly, no rule change could take that trauma away. But she can rest assured that because of her stand, many other pro-life nurses won’t have to go through what she did.
Christians are facing discrimination in the workplace
Cathy experienced clear discrimination in the workplace when she was forced to violate her beliefs, and she is far from the only one. In today’s political climate, it’s very possible that some authority could try to coerce you to violate your conscience. That is why we must join together to turn the tide.
The good news is that Alliance Defending Freedom is supporting those who stand for life:
- Healthcare Providers—We defend nurses, like Cathy DeCarlo, and doctors who shouldn’t have to choose between aborting a child and losing their job.
- Pro-Life Advocates—We defend those who advocate for life, including sidewalk counselors, churches, students whose rights are threatened on campus, and pro-life pregnancy centers that come under targeted attacks from the government.
- Obamacare—We defend those who have challenged the onerous provisions that force them to pay for another person’s abortion.
Through the generous financial support that you and others provide, Alliance Defending Freedom is winning important cases, including at the Supreme Court. Because of these victories, we have good reason for hope.
But we can only keep up this momentum if you and others give to help.
Your gift will defend those who stand for life
No one should face discrimination in the workplace because of their deeply held beliefs. Alliance Defending Freedom has established a strong record of success in defending the religious freedom of those who stand for life, but your help is critically needed now. The fight is not over - many others are facing threats and intimidation just like Cathy DeCarlo.
God has shown us time and time again that when we stand together to protect religious freedom, we can be victorious. But protecting religious freedom isn’t “someone else’s fight.” It’s your fight. It’s our fight.
About Alliance Defending Freedom
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, nonprofit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
ADF was launched in 1994 by 35 ministry leaders, including Dr. James Dobson, Dr. D. James Kennedy, Dr. Bill Bright, and Larry Burkett.
With God’s blessing, ADF has grown from the prayers of those godly leaders to become a major force in the legal battle for religious freedom, winning nearly 80% of our cases, including 15 victories at the U.S. Supreme Court since 2011.