Web site spotlight: Nurse sues hospital after allegedly being forced to assist in abortion

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, August 14, 2009

A New York City nurse slapped a lawsuit on her hospital after allegedly being forced to assist in a late-term abortion that defied her religious beliefs.

Catherina Cenzon-DeCarlo, a devout Catholic operating room nurse employed at Mount Sinai Hospital, claims she had to compromise her faith and perform the procedure on a 22-week pregnant patient or risk losing her job and her license. The hospital has known of the nurse's objections to participating in abortions since she interviewed for her position in 2004. But Cenzon-DeCarlo accuses supervisors of refusing to assign the procedure to another nurse when she begged out of it.

The incident is alarming to some of the most seasoned nurses in the field.

"Ms. Cenzon-DeCarlo has experienced employer bullying at its finest," says Deanna Miller, RN, MSN, Ed, HCE, manager of critical care and staff development at University Hospitals Geneva (OH) Medical Center. "During my 22 years in healthcare, I have never witnessed or experienced this type of infringement on a clinician's rights. If Mount Sinai was aware of [her] beliefs, she should never have been put into such an emotionally taxing position."

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