When Two Fundamental Rights Collide at the Pharmacy: The Struggle to Balance the Consumer’s Right to Access Contraception and the Pharmacist’s Right of Conscience

12 Depaul J. Health Care L. 67, 89-91 (2009)

Suzanne Davis, Paul Lansing

Introduction:  The dangerous intersection between a pharmacist’s right of moral belief and a woman’s right of contraceptive use continues to be an important topic for debate across the nation. In fact, the area of contraceptive rights has been a controversial issue since the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965, which recognized a constitutional right of privacy in family planning decisions implicit within the meaning of the Bill of Rights. Now, over forty years since this landmark decision, courts continue to grapple with the notion of women’s rights and how contraceptive use should be protected.

New developments in pharmaceutical research and technology have resulted in the formation of new legal and ethical issues. The most recent dilemma faced by both federal and state courts features women who desire a recently FDA approved contraceptive drug called Plan B and pharmacists who are morally opposed to the mode of action of the drug. This newfound ability to prevent birth using a drug taken after sexual activity presents a scenario the Griswold Court would have never anticipated. Nonetheless, the precedent beginning with Griswold has created a necessary collision between these two fundamental rights.

Pharmacists are placed in a unique position in this controversy. Pharmacists are licensed by the state yet some believe that they cannot comply with state requirements due to their individual religious beliefs. As nearly all Americans are familiar, the right to religious belief has been protected since the drafting of the Bill of …[Full Text]

Islamic Biomedical Ethics

Islamic Biomedical Ethics: Principles and Application

By Project advisor, Prof. Abdulaziz Sachedina.

“Abdulaziz Sachedina is the leading Islamic thinker writing in Engish today.  Thus, his Islamic Biomedical Ethics is a welcome addition to the already extensive literature in the field because of his great knowledge of the classical and modern Islamic legal and ethical sources, his authentic religious commitment to the truth of Islam, and his willingness to engage perspectives from other traditions in what is becoming a genuinely multicultural field of moral discourse.”  David Novak, author of Jewish Social Ethics

ADF rebuts NY hospital’s claim that pro-life nurse can’t sue

ADF attorneys respond to claims of Mount Sinai Hospital

NEWS RELEASE
19 August, 2009

Alliance Defense Fund

NEW YORK — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys submitted a brief in federal court Monday in response to the claim of New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital that a pro-life nurse who sued the hospital has no right to defend herself in court.  ADF filed suit after the hospital forced senior nurse Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo to participate in a late-term abortion procedure.

“Pro-life nurses shouldn’t be forced to assist in abortions against their beliefs.  Nonetheless, Mount Sinai Hospital is multiplying its injustices against nurse Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman.  “First it disregarded Cathy’s conscience; now it argues she can’t go to court to defend her rights.  Mount Sinai Hospital does not have the right to disregard federal law and then refuse to face the consequences of its actions.”

Administrators at Mount Sinai Hospital threatened Cenzon-DeCarlo with disciplinary measures if she did not honor a last-minute summons to assist in a scheduled late-term abortion.  Despite the fact that the patient was apparently not in crisis at the time of the surgery, the hospital insisted on her participation in the procedure on the grounds that it was an “emergency,” even though the procedure was not classified by the hospital as such. ADF attorneys filed suit on behalf of Cenzon-DeCarlo in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on July 21.

Attorneys for the hospital submitted a brief to the court Aug. 10 arguing that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the federal law at issue “does not grant individual litigants a private right of action.”

ADF attorneys responded to the brief Monday, noting, “Mount Sinai’s compulsion violates 42 U.S.C. § 300a-7(c), ‘the Church Amendment’ (named after Senator Frank Church).  This law provides that no recipient of federal health funds may discriminate in the employment or privileges of its health care personnel because of their religious objection to abortion.  The law contains no exception letting Mount Sinai compel assistance based on their unbridled judgment that abortion is an ‘emergency.’  Mount Sinai’s actions are a quintessential example of discriminating in employment and privileges on condition that Mrs. DeCarlo violate her objection to abortion.”

The ADF brief goes on to explain that “Mount Sinai compounds its contempt of the law” by denying that the law allows Cenzon-DeCarlo to defend her conscience rights.  The brief points out that a federal court just this year “not only recognized an individual right, but allowed the plaintiff (in that case an abortion supporter) to seek punitive damages.”  It also points out that the federal law involves all of the factors that the U.S. Supreme Court has used to recognize such rights and that Congress obviously intended to protect individuals from discrimination under the law it created.

New York ADF-allied attorneys Joseph Ruta and Piero Tozzi are serving as local counsel in the case, Cenzon-DeCarlo v. The Mount Sinai Hospital.  The court will hold a pre-trial conference on Sept. 10.

Contact: ADF MEDIA RELATIONS  (480) 444-0020


ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.

A NY Nurse Forced to do the Unthinkable

Inside the Issues with Alan Sears

August 18, 2009
Reproduced with permission

Alliance Defense Fund

The administrators at New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital knew at least three  things, that Sunday morning, when they ordered senior nurse Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo,  at the last minute, to assist in a late-term abortion:

  1. They knew that Cathy, who is a devoted follower of Christ and a Catholic, was on long-term record with the hospital as opposing abortion for religious reasons.
  2. They knew that, despite what some of them were telling Cathy, the medical situation was not a true emergency, and the mother’s life was not at stake.
  3. They knew that, under federal law, any hospital receiving federal health funds – as Mount Sinai does – cannot force its employees to assist in abortion procedures under any circumstances.

Despite all that, the administrators told Cathy that if she didn’t assist in the  procedure, she would face disciplinary action – likely including termination and  loss of her professional license.

“Pro-life nurses shouldn’t be forced to assist in abortions against their  beliefs,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman, who is representing Cathy in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New  York. “Requiring a devout, Catholic nurse to participate in a late-term abortion  in order to remain employed is illegal, unethical, and violates her rights of  conscience. Federal law requires that employers who receive funding from tax  dollars must not compel employees to violate their sincerely held religious  beliefs, but this nurse’s objections fell on deaf ears.”

ADF attorneys are also requesting a preliminary injunction that would order the hospital to honor  Cenzon-DeCarlo’s religious objection against assisting in abortion and refrain  from retaliation against her while the case moves forward. New York ADF-allied  attorneys Joseph Ruta and Piero Tozzi are serving as local counsel in the case.

“Chasing away workers from the health care field is disastrous health care  policy,” said Bowman. “An individual’s conscience is likely what brought them to  the health care field. Denying or coercing their conscience will likely drive  them right out.”

Cathy’s case is a clear example of an employer violating an employee’s right of  conscience – and violations like this are happening all over the country  everyday to people of sincere religious faith who work in the medical  profession: not only nurses, but doctors and pharmacists as well.  Please be in  prayer for those who are trying to blend their medical skills with a Christ-like  compassion and godly reverence for human life – and in particular prayer for our  attorneys as they represent Cathy in this high profile and potentially  nation-shaping case.

Contact: ADF MEDIA RELATIONS  (480) 444-0020


ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.

Conscience and Clinical Care: The Role of Conscience in Medical Decisions

Daniel P. Sulmasy, M.D.
Center for Practical Bioethics
6 August, 2009.

Does conscience ever clash with professional duties? What do we mean by terms such as ‘conscience’ and ‘conscientious objection’? How should one approach a request from a patient that conflicts with one’s individual conscience?

Physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and a host of other health care professionals face this dilemma all across America. While recently there has been great interest in conflicts of conscience based upon religious beliefs, conscience is a universal phenomenon, conflicts are ubiquitous, and, fortunately, generally resolvable.

In this lecture, Dr. Daniel Sulmasy will discuss how medical professionals can strive to preserve their moral integrity while also respecting and serving patients with whom they might have deep moral disagreements.

Trailer. For the full lecture, visit the Center for Practical Bioethics


NY nurse threatened, forced to assist in late-term abortion

ADF attorneys file lawsuit against hospital for violating Christian nurse’s rights of conscience

NEWS RELEASE
For immediate release
22 July, 2009

Alliance Defense Fund

NEW YORK — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed a lawsuit Monday against Mount Sinai Hospital on behalf of a Catholic nurse who was forced to participate in a late-term abortion under the threat of disciplinary action, including possible termination and loss of her license. The hospital has known of her religious objections to abortion since 2004.

Hospital administrators told the nurse that the scheduled abortion was an “emergency,” though evidence shows otherwise, and insisted moments before the procedure that she assist doctors despite her repeated objections to the procedure, which dismembered a preborn child in the 22nd week of gestation. By federal law, hospitals that receive federal funds cannot force employees to participate in abortion procedures under any circumstances.

“Pro-life nurses shouldn’t be forced to assist in abortions against their beliefs,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “Requiring a devout, Catholic nurse to participate in a late-term abortion in order to remain employed is illegal, unethical, and violates her rights of conscience. Federal law requires that employers who receive funding from tax dollars must not compel employees to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs, but this nurse’s objections fell on deaf ears.”

“Chasing away workers from the health care field is disastrous health care policy,” said Bowman. “An individual’s conscience is likely what brought them to the health care field. Denying or coercing their conscience will likely drive them right out.”

Administrators at Mount Sinai Hospital threatened senior nurse Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo with disciplinary measures if she did not honor a last-minute summons to assist in a scheduled late-term abortion. Despite the fact that the patient was not in crisis at the time of the surgery, the hospital insisted on her participation in the procedure on the grounds that it was an “emergency” even though the procedure was not classified as such.

“Category I” is the classification reserved for “patients requiring immediate surgical intervention for life or limb threatening conditions.” The surgery in this case was classified as “Category II,” for operations needing to take place within six hours, indicating that the hospital had no reason to insist upon Cenzon-DeCarlo’s assistance in the abortion in order to protect the patient. Plenty of time existed to find a different nurse to assist, especially since evidence indicates that the patient’s condition did not rise even to a Category II. In fact, Cenzon-DeCarlo observed no indications that the abortion was a medical emergency while in the operating room.

ADF attorneys filed the complaint in Cenzon-DeCarlo v. The Mount Sinai Hospital with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. They are also requesting a preliminary injunction that would order the hospital to honor Cenzon-DeCarlo’s religious objection against assisting in abortion and refrain from retaliation against her while the case moves forward. New York ADF-allied attorneys Joseph Ruta and Piero Tozzi are serving as local counsel in the case.

Fact sheet on lawsuit, including links to resources

Contact: ADF MEDIA RELATIONS  (480) 444-0020


ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.

Nurse forced to assist in late term abortion

 Cenzon-DeCarlo v. The Mount Sinai Hospital

(New York, NY, USA: May, 2009)

  • ADF | Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed suit on behalf of Catherina Cenzon-DeCarlo, a nurse who was forced to assist in the abortion of a 22-week-old preborn child despite her longstanding religious objections. Full Text

Healthcare responsibilities and conscientious objection

Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2009 Mar;104(3):249-52. Epub 2008 Nov 29.

Rebecca J. Cook, Monica Arango Olaya, Bernard M. Dickens

Abstract:

The Constitutional Court of Colombia has issued a decision of international significance clarifying legal duties of providers,hospitals, and healthcare systems when conscientious objection is made to conducting lawful abortion. The decision establishes objecting providers’duties to refer patients to non-objecting providers, and that hospitals,clinics, and other institutions have no rights of conscientious objection. Their professional and legal duties are to ensure that patients receive timely services. Hospitals and other administrators cannot object, because they do not participate in the procedures they are obliged to arrange. Objecting providers, and hospitals, must maintain knowledge of non-objecting providers to whom their patients must be referred. Accordingly, medical schools must adequately train, and licensing authorities approve, non-objecting providers. Where they are unavailable, midwives and perhaps nurse practitioners may be trained, equipped, and approved for appropriate service delivery. The Court’s decision has widespread implications for how healthcare systems must accommodate conscientious objection and patients’ legal rights. [Full Text]