New York City, N.Y., Jul 28, 2009 / 05:12 am (CNA).- “It felt like a horror film unfolding,” said Catherina Cenzon-DeCarlo, the Brooklyn nurse who says she was forced to aid an abortion against her will. Now Cenzon-DeCarlo is speaking out, describing the terror she felt as she was asked to sacrifice her religious convictions for the sake of her job.
Catherina Cenzon-DeCarlo, a devout Catholic, says she has been having nightmares and difficulty sleeping ever since the incident took place on May 24, reports the New York Post.
“I couldn’t believe that this could happen,” Cenzon-DeCarlo told the Post, describing how she was threatened with charges of insubordination and patient abandonment, which could result in possible loss of a job and nursing license, if she did not participate in the abortion.
Although she was told that it was an emergency and the woman would die if she did not assist, Cenzon-DeCarlo observed that the woman had not received the treatments typically given to a patient whose life is in danger as the hospital claimed it was.
She later found out that the hospital itself had declared the case a “Category II,” meaning that it was not immediately life-threatening, and that there was a six-hour window for the operation to take place, allowing ample time for the hospital to find a replacement nurse who did not have moral objections to the procedure.
“I felt violated and betrayed,” Cenzon-DeCarlo said.
The nurse had clearly stated that she was unwilling to aid in abortions during a job interview with Mount Sinai. She says she had put her beliefs in writing.
Cenzon-DeCarlo went on to explain that she was later told by two supervisors that she would need to sign a statement agreeing to participate in abortions if she wanted any more overtime shifts. Over the next month, she was designated only one overtime shift, instead of the eight or nine she was usually assigned, reported the New York Post.
Now, the Alliance Defense Fund is representing Cenzon-DeCarlo in a lawsuit that seeks to force Mount Sinai to surrender their federal funding because it has violated a federal rule protecting employees who morally object to controversial procedures.
The lawsuit also seeks damages on behalf of Cenzon-DeCarlo, as well as a restoration of her overtime shifts and a respect for her objections to abortion.
Now, the married mother of a year-old baby hopes the litigation will be enough to restore protection to her religious convictions. “I emigrated to this country in the belief that here religious freedom is sacred,” she said. “Doctors and nurses shouldn’t be forced to abandon their beliefs and participate in abortion in order to keep their jobs.”