December 1, 2017
Inearly November, three brave nurses came to Washington, D.C. to tell their
disturbing stories of coercion to members of Congress and the public—about how
they were forced to choose between participating in abortion and losing their
Cathy DeCarlo came to the U.S. from
the Philippines in 2001 to advance her nursing career. In 2004, the New York
City hospital that hired her assured her that she would never have to
compromise her conscience by participating in an abortion. But on May 24, 2009,
the hospital tricked Ms. DeCarlo into serving a patient having a late-term
abortion. If she didn't assist, she would lose her nursing license, destroying
"I'll never forget that day as I
watched in horror as the doctor dismembered and removed the baby's bloody
limbs, and then I had to account for all the pieces," Cathy said at a press
conference outside the U.S. Capitol. "I still have nightmares about that day."
Fe Vinoya is a nurse in a same-day
surgery unit in New Jersey where she and twelve other nurses were told they had
to be trained to assist in abortions. Their jobs were threatened if they
refused. "After years of working as a critical care and emergency room nurse, I
never imagined that the hospital I worked for would force me to choose between
taking the life of an unborn child and losing my job," Fe said. "[W]hen the government denies or coerces healthcare
providers' conscience[s], it not only hurts patients and those of us committed
to serving them, it also deters others from joining the profession," Fe added.
The third nurse, Sandra Mendoza, worked
for eighteen years in pediatrics at the Winnebago County Health Department in
Rockford, IL. In 2015, Sandra was informed that her clinic was being merged
with women's health services and, consequently, all nurses would have to be
cross-trained in abortion referrals and abortion-causing drugs. When Sandra
objected, she was told that if she didn't participate, she could no longer work
at the health department.
"Like many nurses I know… I view
nursing as more than just a job, but a calling and a vocation," Sandra said. "I'm
called to protect life not destroy it. I'm called to serve others and do no
harm, as the Hippocratic Oath I took states. While we may not all agree on
abortion, I'd hope we can all agree that no doctor or and nurse should be
forced out of employment on account of their faith and commitment to protecting
In addition to medical providers and
trainees being forced to participate in abortion, churches and others who
oppose abortion are being forced to provide insurance coverage for it in a
growing number of states. Current federal conscience protection laws are
failing to prevent such discrimination due to loopholes and insufficient
enforcement mechanisms. This can be solved, but your help is needed.
The Conscience Protection Act (H.R. 644/S.
301) fixes those loopholes and provides victims of discrimination with the
ability to defend their rights in court. Contact Congress now through www.humanlifeaction.org to urge your
representatives to enact the Conscience Protection Act as part of its Fiscal Year
2018 appropriations bill. Finally, follow and share the #StandWithNurses social
media campaign advocating for nurses like Cathy, Fe, and Sandra. Your voice matters!
Greg Schleppenbach is
the Associate Director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the United
States Conference of Catholic Bishops. For more information on the
bishops' pro-life activities, please visit www.usccb.org/prolife.