Friday, July 31, 2009

Was a Nurse Forced to Perform an Abortion?

A pro-life Catholic nurse is in the news for allegedly being forced to provide an abortion. The nurse in question is Catherina Cenzon-DeCarlo. Here’s how the situation unfolded:

Bosses told the weeping Cenzon-DeCarlo the patient was 22 weeks into her pregnancy and had preeclampsia, a condition marked by high blood pressure that can lead to seizures or death if left untreated.
The supervisor "claimed that the mother could die if [Cenzon-DeCarlo] did not assist in the abortion."

But the nurse, the niece of a Filipino bishop, contends that the patient's life was not in danger. She argued that the patient was not even on magnesium therapy, a common treatment for preeclampsia, and did not have problems indicating an emergency.

Her pleas were rejected, and instead she was threatened with career-ending charges of insubordination and patient abandonment, according to the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Brooklyn federal court.

Feeling threatened, Cenzon-DeCarlo assisted in the procedure.

She said she later learned that the hospital's own records deemed the procedure "Category II," which is not considered immediately life threatening.
"I felt violated and betrayed," she recalled. "I couldn't believe that this could happen."

Read the rest of the article here.

Should she have been forced to participate in the abortion? Whether the woman’s life was truly in danger remains in dispute. If it wasn’t, then it seems like the hospital could have found another nurse who had no objections to assisting in an abortion and avoided this problem entirely. The pro-choice position should extend beyond the woman seeking an abortion. The doctors and nurses should be able to choose whether they want to perform abortions or not.

It becomes thornier when we consider the possibility that the woman’s life was in danger. If that’s true, then the hospital might have been in the right morally in making the nurse perform the abortion. Maybe another nurse couldn’t have been found in time and a woman would be dead because the nurse refused to participate. This is truly a difficult situation. The hospital in question would have been choosing to take someone’s life, or trample on someone’s religious conviction. The nurse in question could well (in her own mind) have been choosing between going to hell and keeping her job.

If this incident becomes well publicized, it could again make abortion an issue politically. On one hand will be pro-lifers and many people of faith claiming that the secular, pro-abortion left isn’t satisfied with rewriting the constitution to let women get abortions; it wants to force religious people who hate abortion to perform it. On the other hand could be feminists and other leftists who say that pro-lifers are so blinded by their religion and ideology that they’re willing to let a woman die.

What do you think? Should nurses and doctors be required to perform an abortion when a woman’s life is in danger, even if they have religious objections to abortion? Take the poll, and sound off in the comments section.

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