The New York Post reports that a nurse from Brooklyn was coerced into assisting at an abortion against her religious convictions:
"It felt like a horror film unfolding," said Catherina Cenzon-DeCarlo, 35, who claims she has had gruesome nightmares and hasn't been able to sleep since the May 24 incident.
The married mother of a year-old baby was 30 minutes into her early-morning shift when she realized she had been assigned to an abortion. She begged her supervisor to find a replacement nurse for the procedure. The hospital had a six-hour window to find a fill-in, the suit says.
Bosses told the weeping Cenzon-DeCarlo the patient was 22 weeks into her pregnancy and had preeclampsia, a condition marked by high blood pressure that can lead to seizures or death if left untreated.
The supervisor "claimed that the mother could die if [Cenzon-DeCarlo] did not assist in the abortion."
But the nurse, the niece of a Filipino bishop, contends that the patient's life was not in danger. She argued that the patient was not even on magnesium therapy, a common treatment for preeclampsia, and did not have problems indicating an emergency.
Her pleas were rejected, and instead she was threatened with career-ending charges of insubordination and patient abandonment, according to the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Brooklyn federal court.
Feeling threatened, Cenzon-DeCarlo assisted in the procedure.
She said she later learned that the hospital's own records deemed the procedure "Category II," which is not considered immediately life threatening.
"I felt violated and betrayed," she recalled. "I couldn't believe that this could happen."
A native of the Philippines, Cenzon-DeCarlo moved to New York in 2001 and started at Mount Sinai on the East Side as an operating-room nurse in 2004. During her job interview, an administrator asked Cenzon-DeCarlo whether she'd be willing to participate in abortions. She flatly said no.
The nurse said she put her beliefs in writing.
The day after the procedure, Cenzon-DeCarlo filed a grievance with her union. Later that week, she was cornered by two supervisors who told her if she wanted any more overtime shifts, she would have to sign a statement agreeing to participate in abortions, the suit says.
The next month, Cenzon-DeCarlo was assigned to one overtime shift, rather than the eight or nine she usually received, the suit claims.
Although the Brooklyn resident is still working at Mount Sinai, she's asking a court to order the hospital to pay unspecified damages, restore her shifts and respect her objections to abortion.
"I emigrated to this country in the belief that here religious freedom is sacred," Cenzon-DeCarlo said. "Doctors and nurses shouldn't be forced to abandon their beliefs and participate in abortion in order to keep their jobs."
This story is deeply troubling. Even if we were willing for a moment to pretend that abortion does not objectively constitute murder, it is undeniable that subjectively she was coerced to assist at a murder; for that is what she sincerely believes to be the case. No wonder she's been having nightmares since the incident. No person should be put in such a situation.
One of the very last things George W. Bush did before leaving office was to sign a sweeping conscience protection clause which guaranteed the right of any healthcare provider to refuse to participate in treatment which they found morally objectionable. And one of the very first things Barack Obama did upon taking up office was to annul this clause by executive order, that is literally with a stroke of a pen, ostensibly because it had not been "properly reviewed." The Obama administration is instead working on a new clause which will certainly be more modest and will most probably involve some kind of exception for medical emergencies - otherwise the prompt scrapping of the Bush clause would make little sense.
Most Liberals view the right to abstain from compulsory military service as something sacrosanct. The US does not at present employ the draft, but back in the days of the Vietnam war deserters and draft dodgers were viewed as heroes among the Left. In their view, no-one should be forced to kill or even be taught to kill another person if it conflicts with his beliefs - as long as this happens in the context of a war. But on the hospital ward this fierce demand for respect for conscience is largely absent. Why? It seems to me that for Liberals, there is one right that trumps all other rights, even that of the right to respect for conscience, and that is the right to have your life look as you want it to, with a minimum of suffering, even if it requires killing other people to achieve that end.