A nurse is suing Mount Sinai Hospital, claiming the institution "forced" her to assist with an abortion, despite her pleas. The Post reports, "The hospital even exaggerated the patient's condition and claimed the woman could die if the nurse, a devout Catholic, did not follow orders, the nurse alleges in a lawsuit."
Catherina Cenzon-DeCarlo tells the Post, "It felt like a horror film unfolding," and says she's had nightmares and trouble sleeping since the May 24 incident. Apparently she asked her supervisor to find a replacement nurse, but "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," and "claimed that the mother could die if [Cenzon-DeCarlo] did not assist in the abortion." From the Post:
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... 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."
Cenzon-DeCarlo, who also claims she made it clear she would not assist with abortions during her 2004 interview, says supervisors essentially gave her an ultimatum: Performs abortions and get overtime shifts. She added, "I emigrated to this country in the belief that here religious freedom is sacred. Doctors and nurses shouldn't be forced to abandon their beliefs and participate in abortion in order to keep their jobs." Christian group the Alliance Defense Fund is advising Cenzon-Decarlo.
The NYCLU's Galen Sherwin said the issue of "emergency" is key, "The law provides protections for individuals who object to performing abortions, but at the same time, health-care professionals are not permitted to abandon patients." The Post also looks at "conscience rules" that protect health care workers who object on religious or moral grounds. President Obama is set to overturn the clause from former President Bush's term; proponents of the rules say it protects workers from discrimination while opponents say it's too broad and could allow workers to refuse to participate in blood transfusions or even selling medication.