Re-Introduced Conscience Bill Would Protect Health Providers From Abortion Mandates

U.S. bishops have previously asked Congress to pass the Conscience Protection Act.

National Catholic Register

Matt Hadro

WASHINGTON — A bill that would protect health care providers’ freedom to opt out of abortion mandates they find objectionable has once again been introduced in Congress.

“This bill is needed to give health care providers the right to provide medical care without violating their deeply held beliefs,” Sen. James Lankford, sponsor of the bill in the Senate, stated on Friday.

“Americans have very different views about abortion, but we should not force anyone to participate in it or provide coverage,” he added.

The Conscience Protection Act would protect health care providers from federal, state and local abortion mandates if they conscientiously object to assisting with abortions. It would also protect religious employers from having to cover elective abortions in their health plans and establishes a “right of action” for all entities if they believe their religious beliefs on the matter are violated. . . [Full text]

 

Forum on Conscience Protections

United States Congress Energy and Commerce Committee

Friday, July 8, 2016 – 9:00am

Location: 2123 Rayburn House Office Building

PARTICIPANTS

Marie-Alberte Boursiquot – M.D., F.A.C.P., President-elect of the Catholic Medical Association
Prepared remarks

William J. “Bill” Cox – President of the Alliance of Catholic Health Care
Prepared remarks

Cathy DeCarlo – Nurse, New York
Prepared remarks

Richard Doerflinger – Former Associate Director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Prepared remarks

Pastor Jim Garlow – Skyline Church, La Mesa, California
Prepared remarks

Donna J. Harrison, M.D. – Executive Director of the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Prepared remarks

Pastor Chris Lewis – Foothill Church, Glendora, California
Prepared remarks

Casey Mattox – Senior Counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom
Prepared remarks

Fe Vinoya – Nurse, New Jersey
Prepared remarks

Dr. Dave Weldon – former Member of Congress and author of the Weldon Amendment, which was written to provide protections for entities that do not participate in abortion
Prepared remarks

 

 

 

Growing Intolerance Threatens Rights of Conscience of Health Care Workers

cnsnews.com

Lynn Wardle*

Around the world, policies and actions of many governments and governmental agencies are threatening rights of conscience of health care providers and employees.  These challenges and dangers seem to be increasing.

Recent times have seen numerous high-profile incidents in which nurses, doctors, hospital staff, government employees, and other health care workers are being pressured, required and forced to provide morally-controversial elective procedures (such as non-therapeutic abortions) despite their expressed moral objections to participating in such services. [Full text]

 

Mt. Sinai Ends Forced Abortion-Participation Policy

 News Release

Alliance Defending Freedom

A newly completed U.S. Department of Health and Human Services investigation of New York’s Mt. Sinai Hospital has resulted in additional policy and procedure changes to ensure that medical personnel are not forced to participate in abortions. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing a Mt. Sinai nurse requested the HHS Office of Civil Rights investigation after the hospital forced her to assist in an abortion in violation of her religious beliefs in 2009.

The changes come in addition to a new policy the hospital adopted after Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a lawsuit on behalf of the nurse, Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo.

“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.”

Mt. Sinai’s policy revision states, “It is the legal right of any individual to refuse to participate in these procedures.” The policy applies regardless of whether the abortion is classified as an elective or emergency procedure and provides a process for “alternative coverage” in the event a staff member opts not to participate.

As a result of the HHS investigation, 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.

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.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys asked HHS to investigate in March 2010 and filed, together with lead counsel and allied attorney Joseph Ruta, the lawsuit Cenzon-DeCarlo v. The Mount Sinai Hospital in Kings County Supreme Court the following month. The lawsuit argues that Mt. Sinai violated state conscience laws as well as state laws against religious employment discrimination and intentionally inflicting emotional distress on an individual. The suit, which is still ongoing, also includes five other claims based on DeCarlo’s coerced participation in the abortion. A federal court dismissed Cenzon-DeCarlo’s federal suit filed in July 2009.

 

Obama Administration Rejects Conscience Protections

The Heartland Institute

30 March, 2011
Reproduced with permission

William Saunders and Anna Franzonello

An issue of paramount importance for medical professionals is the protection of their right to conscience—their freedom to refuse or decline to do practices they oppose on religious or moral grounds. A February decision by the Obama administration, however, sweeps aside conscience protections instituted under President Bush.

The decision is not unexpected—the Obama administration initiated the process to rescind the Bush regulations on March 10, 2009. Unfortunately, it comes at a time when pressure to violate one’s conscience or leave the medical profession is not theoretical but very real.

Obama Rejects ‘Conscientious Refusal’

One such recent threat comes from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), which reviewed and reaffirmed its 2007 Ethics Committee Number 385, titled “The Limits of Conscientious Refusal in Reproductive Medicine” in November 2010.

Rule number 385 categorizes a conscience objection as a “refusal,” describing elective abortion and other controversial reproductive medical procedures and services as “standard.” The opinion states, “In some circumstances, respect for conscience must be weighed against respect for particular social values.”

On balance, according to ACOG’s rule, abortion is a social value that outweighs any conscientious objection. It requires prolife physicians to refer individual for abortions and even suggests they relocate their practices to better refer patients to nearby abortionists.

Could Strip Certification

The effect of the ACOG committee opinion is that otherwise qualified health care providers specializing in obstetrics and gynecology may lose their board certification solely because of their prolife values. According to the 2011 Bulletin for Basic Certification in Obstetrics and Gynecology from the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG), an individual can have his or her board certification revoked if he or she acts in “violation of ABOG or ACOG rules and/or ethical principles.”

Without Board certification, a doctor is subject to discrimination by other entities. State and local governments, hospitals, or other institutions that require Board certification may take action against the physician. Thus, refusing to conform to the ACOG recommendations on abortion could result in the loss of a health care provider’s livelihood.

In finding that abortion is a circumstance where conscientious objection “can and should be overridden in the interest of other moral obligations that outweigh it,” ACOG’s subjection of conscience to patient autonomy leaves patients paying the ultimate price. Access to essential reproductive health care will be limited as prolife doctors are forced out of the field.

ACOG Threat Prompted Rule

When ACOG first issued its threat, then-Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Michael Leavitt issued a letter to Norman F. Gant, executive director of ABOG, stating such discrimination would seem to violate federal laws protecting the right of conscientious objection to abortion.

ABOG and ACOG refused to change their policy, and the Bush administration enacted the “Regulation Ensuring that the Department of Health and Human Services Funds Do Not Support Coercive or Discriminatory Practice in Violation of Federal Law” in December 2008. The regulation required certification from entities receiving federal funds from HHS that they will comply with the established federal conscience protection laws.

Protection Removed

A recent case demonstrated the importance of the Bush rule. A nurse at Mt. Sinai hospital in New York, Cathy DeCarlo, was forced to participate in an abortion despite her conscientious objection. A federal court dismissed her claim, saying she cannot bring suit by herself. HHS then ruled the court can pursue the case because of the Bush regulations.

Now that President Obama has revoked the rule, conscience rights will likely have little protection against threats from ACOG and ABOG. It is unlikely Congress (particularly the Senate) has the votes to convert the revoked guidelines into a binding statute. For this reason, Americans United for Life has drafted a model bill to protect conscience at the state level, blocking discriminatory practices such as “refusal of board certification.”

Health care professionals face serious ethical issues on a daily basis. The Obama administration’s rejection of conscience protection ought to concern both health care providers and patients.

ADF rebuts NY hospital’s claim that pro-life nurse can’t sue

ADF attorneys respond to claims of Mount Sinai Hospital

NEWS RELEASE
19 August, 2009

Alliance Defense Fund

NEW YORK — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys submitted a brief in federal court Monday in response to the claim of New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital that a pro-life nurse who sued the hospital has no right to defend herself in court.  ADF filed suit after the hospital forced senior nurse Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo to participate in a late-term abortion procedure.

“Pro-life nurses shouldn’t be forced to assist in abortions against their beliefs.  Nonetheless, Mount Sinai Hospital is multiplying its injustices against nurse Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman.  “First it disregarded Cathy’s conscience; now it argues she can’t go to court to defend her rights.  Mount Sinai Hospital does not have the right to disregard federal law and then refuse to face the consequences of its actions.”

Administrators at Mount Sinai Hospital threatened Cenzon-DeCarlo with disciplinary measures 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. ADF attorneys filed suit on behalf of Cenzon-DeCarlo in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on July 21.

Attorneys for the hospital submitted a brief to the court Aug. 10 arguing that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the federal law at issue “does not grant individual litigants a private right of action.”

ADF attorneys responded to the brief Monday, noting, “Mount Sinai’s compulsion violates 42 U.S.C. § 300a-7(c), ‘the Church Amendment’ (named after Senator Frank Church).  This law provides that no recipient of federal health funds may discriminate in the employment or privileges of its health care personnel because of their religious objection to abortion.  The law contains no exception letting Mount Sinai compel assistance based on their unbridled judgment that abortion is an ‘emergency.’  Mount Sinai’s actions are a quintessential example of discriminating in employment and privileges on condition that Mrs. DeCarlo violate her objection to abortion.”

The ADF brief goes on to explain that “Mount Sinai compounds its contempt of the law” by denying that the law allows Cenzon-DeCarlo to defend her conscience rights.  The brief points out that a federal court just this year “not only recognized an individual right, but allowed the plaintiff (in that case an abortion supporter) to seek punitive damages.”  It also points out that the federal law involves all of the factors that the U.S. Supreme Court has used to recognize such rights and that Congress obviously intended to protect individuals from discrimination under the law it created.

New York ADF-allied attorneys Joseph Ruta and Piero Tozzi are serving as local counsel in the case, Cenzon-DeCarlo v. The Mount Sinai Hospital.  The court will hold a pre-trial conference on Sept. 10.

Contact: ADF MEDIA RELATIONS  (480) 444-0020


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.

A NY Nurse Forced to do the Unthinkable

Inside the Issues with Alan Sears

August 18, 2009
Reproduced with permission

Alliance Defense Fund

The administrators at New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital knew at least three  things, that Sunday morning, when they ordered senior nurse Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo,  at the last minute, to assist in a late-term abortion:

  1. They knew that Cathy, who is a devoted follower of Christ and a Catholic, was on long-term record with the hospital as opposing abortion for religious reasons.
  2. They knew that, despite what some of them were telling Cathy, the medical situation was not a true emergency, and the mother’s life was not at stake.
  3. They knew that, under federal law, any hospital receiving federal health funds – as Mount Sinai does – cannot force its employees to assist in abortion procedures under any circumstances.

Despite all that, the administrators told Cathy that if she didn’t assist in the  procedure, she would face disciplinary action – likely including termination and  loss of her professional license.

“Pro-life nurses shouldn’t be forced to assist in abortions against their  beliefs,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman, who is representing Cathy in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New  York. “Requiring a devout, Catholic nurse to participate in a late-term abortion  in order to remain employed is illegal, unethical, and violates her rights of  conscience. Federal law requires that employers who receive funding from tax  dollars must not compel employees to violate their sincerely held religious  beliefs, but this nurse’s objections fell on deaf ears.”

ADF attorneys are also requesting a preliminary injunction that would order the hospital to honor  Cenzon-DeCarlo’s religious objection against assisting in abortion and refrain  from retaliation against her while the case moves forward. New York ADF-allied  attorneys Joseph Ruta and Piero Tozzi are serving as local counsel in the case.

“Chasing away workers from the health care field is disastrous health care  policy,” said Bowman. “An individual’s conscience is likely what brought them to  the health care field. Denying or coercing their conscience will likely drive  them right out.”

Cathy’s case is a clear example of an employer violating an employee’s right of  conscience – and violations like this are happening all over the country  everyday to people of sincere religious faith who work in the medical  profession: not only nurses, but doctors and pharmacists as well.  Please be in  prayer for those who are trying to blend their medical skills with a Christ-like  compassion and godly reverence for human life – and in particular prayer for our  attorneys as they represent Cathy in this high profile and potentially  nation-shaping case.

Contact: ADF MEDIA RELATIONS  (480) 444-0020


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.

NY nurse threatened, forced to assist in late-term abortion

ADF attorneys file lawsuit against hospital for violating Christian nurse’s rights of conscience

NEWS RELEASE
For immediate release
22 July, 2009

Alliance Defense Fund

NEW YORK — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed a lawsuit Monday against Mount Sinai Hospital on behalf of a Catholic nurse who was forced to participate in a late-term abortion under the threat of disciplinary action, including possible termination and loss of her license. The hospital has known of her religious objections to abortion since 2004.

Hospital administrators told the nurse that the scheduled abortion was an “emergency,” though evidence shows otherwise, and insisted moments before the procedure that she assist doctors despite her repeated objections to the procedure, which dismembered a preborn child in the 22nd week of gestation. By federal law, hospitals that receive federal funds cannot force employees to participate in abortion procedures under any circumstances.

“Pro-life nurses shouldn’t be forced to assist in abortions against their beliefs,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “Requiring a devout, Catholic nurse to participate in a late-term abortion in order to remain employed is illegal, unethical, and violates her rights of conscience. Federal law requires that employers who receive funding from tax dollars must not compel employees to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs, but this nurse’s objections fell on deaf ears.”

“Chasing away workers from the health care field is disastrous health care policy,” said Bowman. “An individual’s conscience is likely what brought them to the health care field. Denying or coercing their conscience will likely drive them right out.”

Administrators at Mount Sinai Hospital threatened senior nurse Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo with disciplinary measures if she did not honor a last-minute summons to assist in a scheduled late-term abortion. Despite the fact that the patient was 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 as such.

“Category I” is the classification reserved for “patients requiring immediate surgical intervention for life or limb threatening conditions.” The surgery in this case was classified as “Category II,” for operations needing to take place within six hours, indicating that the hospital had no reason to insist upon Cenzon-DeCarlo’s assistance in the abortion in order to protect the patient. Plenty of time existed to find a different nurse to assist, especially since evidence indicates that the patient’s condition did not rise even to a Category II. In fact, Cenzon-DeCarlo observed no indications that the abortion was a medical emergency while in the operating room.

ADF attorneys filed the complaint in Cenzon-DeCarlo v. The Mount Sinai Hospital with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. They are also requesting a preliminary injunction that would order the hospital to honor Cenzon-DeCarlo’s religious objection against assisting in abortion and refrain from retaliation against her while the case moves forward. New York ADF-allied attorneys Joseph Ruta and Piero Tozzi are serving as local counsel in the case.

Fact sheet on lawsuit, including links to resources

Contact: ADF MEDIA RELATIONS  (480) 444-0020


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.

Nurse forced to assist in late term abortion

 Cenzon-DeCarlo v. The Mount Sinai Hospital

(New York, NY, USA: May, 2009)

  • ADF | Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed suit on behalf of Catherina Cenzon-DeCarlo, a nurse who was forced to assist in the abortion of a 22-week-old preborn child despite her longstanding religious objections. Full Text