Catholic nurse can’t sue hospital that forced her to assist abortion: court
November 23, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Today the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a Catholic nurse who was forced by a New York hospital to participate in an abortion does not have the right to sue her employer.
Administrators at Mt. Sinai Hospital had threatened Catherine DeCarlo with disciplinary measures in May 2009 if she did not honor a last-minute summons to assist in a scheduled late-term abortion. The hospital insisted on her participation in the procedure on the grounds that it was an “emergency.”
Lawyers for DeCarlo, however, have pointed out that the procedure was not classified by the hospital as an emergency, and the patient was apparently not in crisis at the time of the surgery.
DeCarlo claims that her participation in the abortion led to serious emotional trauma. She also claims that hospital administrators later attempted to coerce her into signing an agreement to participate in abortions in the future.
The hospital had reportedly known of the Catholic nurse’s religious objections to abortion since 2004.
Alliance Defence Fund (ADF) attorneys had filed two suits in the case – one federal, filed in July 2009, and another state, filed earlier this year. The federal suit claimed that Mt. Sinai ignored federal laws prohibiting coercion while receiving hundred of millions of dollars in federal funding.
In January the case was dismissed by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, at which point it was appealed to the Second Circuit.
However, in today’s ruling the court found that there is no right to private action or private remedy under the statue cited by DeCarlo in her suit – the so-called “Church Amendment.” (Read the decision here.)
That amendment protects health care workers working for federally-funded entities from being discriminated against because they refused to perform abortions on religious or conscience grounds.
In May Americans United for Life (AUL) had filed an amicus brief in support of DeCarlo on behalf of the National Association of Prolife Nurses, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Physicians for Life, Christian Medical & Dental Associations, and the Catholic Medical Association. According to AUL staffer Mailee Smith the groups represent over 19,000 health care professionals.
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