Anti-abortion lawmakers and pro-life medical professionals gathered on Capitol Hill last Wednesday in support of an end-of-year spending bill which would protect health care professionals who object to taking part in abortions.
The Conscience Protection Act of 2017 would allow doctors, nurses, healthcare providers and institutions to sue in circumstances where they’re coerced into performing abortions, partaking in such or discriminated against for refusing to do so.
While the current law protects against discrimination, it does not allow for legal action in cases where that law may have been broken.
A press conference following Wednesday’s bill proposal, featured Cathy DeCarlo, a New York City-based nurse who claims despite her religious objections, she was forced in 2009 to assist a doctor in performing an abortion.
DeCarlo recounted the day she says still gives her nightmares.
“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,” she said tearfully at Wednesday’s press conference.
After seeking the resident doctor as well as her supervisor for a replacement, DeCarlo was informed she would be required 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.”
DeCarlo says she hopes sharing her experience will lead Congress to pass The Conscience Protection Act so that other nurses and healthcare professionals are never forced to endure the nightmare she’s re-lived for eight years now.
A native of the Philippines, DeCarlo believes America has a duty to protect the conscience rights of healthcare workers who have made a personal commitment to protecting and saving lives.
Another nurse who spoke at Wednesday’s event was Sandra Mendoza. The “award-winning” nurse hailing from Illinois 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.”