ByDeirdre A. McQuade
December 4, 2015
one should ever be forced to participate in an abortion against his or her
will. Yet that's exactly what happened to Catherine "Cathy" Cenzon-DeCarlo, RN,
whose nursing license and very livelihood were threatened if she didn't assist
at an elective late-term abortion. Medical personnel need stronger conscience
protections in federal law so this will never happen again.
was an operating room nurse at a major New York City hospital in 2009, when she
was forced to participate in a 22-week abortion against her clearly stated
advance objections. Cathy has suffered deep trauma from witnessing the bloody
dismemberment of the unborn child and accounting for all his or her tiny body
parts afterwards. She says it was like "a horror film unfolding."
tells her powerful story in our YouTube video: "Stand
with Cathy for Conscience Rights!" (goo.gl/0pYRpX).
Watch and share it with friends, colleagues, and family members. If you're on
Facebook, view it on the bishops' People of
Life page and share it from there.
bravely sued the hospital, which had said that she and other nurses could be
forced into this situation again. But while her employer's coercion was
illegal, she had no recourse in court and her case was dismissed. Since then,
many other nurses and medical staff have told her that she's not alone.
Contrary to their medical oath to "do no harm," they, too, have been coerced into
can these things happen, since there are laws on the books to protect
conscientious objection to abortion? The fact is, current federal laws have loopholes
and legal weaknesses that opponents of conscience rights have learned to
exploit. Most importantly, none of them clearly includes a "private right of
action" to allow victims of discrimination to defend their rights in court.
a solution is available, and we should be part of it. Congress has long been
considering a remedy called the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA) to close
these loopholes and provide that essential private right of action. This month,
Congress needs to pass a law funding government programs in 2016 – and this
urgently-needed reform should be part of that law. So we must speak up now.
in solidarity with Cathy and all medical professionals who so urgently need
their rights protected. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is working hard
to see ANDA over the finish line with the help of our partner organization, the
National Committee for a Human Life Amendment (NCHLA).
They've made it easy to urge Congress to support this modest but essential law.
Simply visit their action
center to send a personalized message to your elected representatives and invite
others to do the same. It only takes a few minutes! Finally, help spread the
word on Twitter by joining the #StandWithCathy
conversation and .
learn more about the bishops' advocacy on conscience rights, visit www.usccb.org/conscience. Thank you
for standing with Cathy today. Together we'll make a difference!
A. McQuade is Assistant Director of Pro-Life Communications at the Secretariat
of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.