On Wednesday, pro-life medical professionals and public officials gathered on Capitol Hill in support of the Conscience Protection Act of 2017.
As The Hill reported, the bill, which is sponsored by chairwoman of the House Budget Committee Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), would “provide legal recourse for hospitals, health systems, religious charities, churches, and insurance companies who are required to participate in or provide coverage for abortion.” While current law prohibits discrimination against those who refuse to partake in the procedure, it does not allow for legal action in instances where the law may have been broken.
During the press conference on Wednesday, Cathy DeCarlo, a New York City-based nurse, emotionally recounted how, in 2009, she was forced to help a doctor perform an abortion despite her documented religious objections.
Watch the powerful testimony below:
DeCarlo, a practicing Catholic, explained how she began her nursing career in her native Philippines before moving to New York in 2001. She got a job working at Mount Sinai Hospital as an operating room nurse in 2004. According to a New York Post report from the time of the 2009 incident, DeCarlo was asked during her job interview if she would be willing to participate in abortions. She said no and put her beliefs in writing. For the first five years of her tenure, her wishes were respected, but that all changed on May 24, 2009.
I moved to New York in 2001, and I worked at a number of hospitals. In August of 2004, I was hired as an operating room nurse at a New York hospital, a hospital which receives millions of dollars in federal funding. When I was hired, the hospital assured me that I would never have to compromise my conscience, and participate in an abortion. For five years, I enjoyed serving patients and received exemplary performance reviews. But on May 24th, 2009, the hospital went back on their word.
I was preparing for what I thought was going to be a common procedure following a miscarriage only to realize that I was being asked to perform an abortion on a live, 22-week-old unborn baby. I was scared. I knew doing so would violate my conscience and commitment to protecting and saving lives. I immediately called the resident doctor on duty and my supervisor to find a sub. My supervisor informed me that I would have to assist with the abortion.
I reminded her in tears about the hospital’s legal obligation to never force me to participate in an abortion, but to always find a substitute nurse – but she refused. My supervisor insisted that I had to do the abortion, and that if I didn’t assist, I would be charged with insubordination and abandoning my patient. My nursing career and ability to care for patients and provide for my family would be over. I’ll never forget that day as I watched in horror as a doctor dismembered and removed the baby’s bloody limbs – and I had to account for all the pieces.
I still have nightmares about that day, which is why I am here today to ask Congress to pass the Conscience Protection Act so that no other nurses or health care professionals are ever forced to go through what I did.
I never thought in America that I would be forced to violate my conscience in that way. Please protect conscience rights for health care workers. Protecting conscience is essential to our ability to care for and ensure every patient is treated with dignity and respect.
Two other nurses also spoke at the event. Sandra Mendoza, who Life Site News described as an “award-winning” Illinois nurse, said she lost her job in 2015 at the Winnebago County Health Department because of her “religious convictions that prevent me from taking a person’s life.”
“I’m called to protect life, not destroy it,” she said. “While we may not all agree on abortion, I’d hope we can all agree that no doctor or nurse should be forced out of employment on account of their faith and commitment to protecting life.”
Fe Vinoya, a New Jersey nurse who risked her job for refusing assist with abortion, pleaded that “no American should ever have to face” the decision of choosing between their conscience and their job.
“Participating in the destruction of human life is not only a violation of my religious convictions,” Vinoya said, “it also conflicts with my calling as a medical professional to protect life.”
Ultimately, Black hopes her legislation will provide a safeguard for those who feel it is their moral and professional obligation to protect life.
“It is time for this comprehensive, reasonable and modest bill to be voted on so we can allow millions of Americans who believe as I do in the sanctity of life to abide by those beliefs without having them trampled on by their own government,” she said.
(H/T: The Daily Wire)