NEW YORK — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed a lawsuit Friday against Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York state court on behalf of a nurse forced to participate in a late-term abortion procedure under threat of disciplinary action, including possible termination and loss of her license. The state suit was filed in addition to pro-life nurse Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo’s federal lawsuit, which is on appeal, because her rights of conscience are also protected by New York law.
“Pro-life nurses shouldn’t be forced to assist in abortions against their beliefs,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “It is illegal, unethical, and a violation of Cathy’s rights of conscience as a devout Catholic to require her to participate in terminating the life of a 22-week pre-born child. It was not only wrong, it was needless.”
Administrators at Mt. Sinai Hospital 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.
In the newly filed state suit, ADF attorneys allege that Mt. Sinai is violating state conscience laws, as well as state laws against religious employment discrimination and intentionally inflicting emotional distress on an individual—along with five other claims based on DeCarlo’s coerced participation in the abortion.
“An individual’s conscience is often what brings health care workers into the medical field,” said lead counsel Joseph Ruta, one of more than 1,600 attorneys in the ADF alliance. “Denying or coercing their conscience will likely drive them right out.”
ADF attorneys filed the state lawsuit Cenzon-DeCarlo v. The Mount Sinai Hospital with the Kings County Supreme Court.
ADF attorneys filed the federal suit in July 2009, claiming Mt. Sinai ignored federal laws prohibiting such coercion while receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding. Mt. Sinai responded by saying Cenzon-DeCarlo had no right to sue. ADF attorneys also sent a letter in March urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to take action against the hospital for its unlawful coercive treatment of DeCarlo.
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.