23 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 733 (2010)
Removing Conscience from Medicine: Turning the Hippocratic Oath into a Hypocrite's Pledge

handle is hein.journals/geojlege23 and id is 741 raw text is: Removing Conscience from Medicine: Turning the
Hippocratic Oath into a Hypocrite's Pledge
MAYA M. NORONHA*
While we are contending for our own liberty, we should be very cautious not to
violate the rights of conscience in others...t
INTRODUCTION
On May 24, 2009, nurse Catherine Cenzon-DeCarlo was told by Mount Sinai
Hospital that if she did not participate in a second trimester abortion, she would
be charged with insubordination and patient abandonment, involving disciplinary
action with the possibility of the loss of her job and nursing license.2
Cenzon-DeCarlo, who had previously informed the hospital of her religious
objections to abortion, participated in the procedure and subsequently had
nightmares about children in distress, lost sleep, and suffered in her personal and
religious relationships because of being forced to assist in an abortion. A suit
was filed on behalf of Cenzon-DeCarlo, claiming that the Church Amendment, a
federal law protecting conscience rights, was violated.4 On January 15, 2010, the
district court dismissed her case, on the basis that there is no basis for implying a
* J.D., Georgetown University Law Center (expected Feb. 2011); A.B., Georgetown University (2005). I
would like to thank Nicole Lancia, Megan Vetula, Matthew Rich, Tonio DeSorrento, Sean Murphy, Tyler Mark,
Paula Stannard, Dr. Tessa Cook, and Dr. George Isajiw for their comments. I would also like to offer my
gratitude to my family for teaching me about the importance of a good conscience.
1. George Washington, Letter to Colonel Benedict Arnold, University of Virginia Library, http://
etext.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id =WasFio3.xml&images = images/modeng&data=/textslenglish/mod-
eng/parsed&tag=public&part=346&division=divl. (last visited Mar. 15, 2010).
2. Alliance Defense Fund, Cenzon-DeCarlo Fact Sheet, http://www.telladf.org/UserDocs/Cenzon-
DeCarloFactSheet.pdf (last visited Mar. 15, 2010).
3. Alliance  Defense  Fund,   Cenzon-DeCarlo   Complaint,   http://www.telladf.orgfUserDocs/
Cenzon-DeCarloComplaint.pdf (last visited Mar. 15, 2010).
4. NY nurse threatened, forced to assist in late-term abortion. Alliance Defense Fund News Release, July
22, 2009, http://www.adfmedia.org/News/PRDetail/2694 (last visited Mar. 15, 2010). Cenzon-DeCarlo's
situation is not unique. See, e.g., Vandersand v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 525 E Supp. 2d 1052 (C.D. 111. July 31,
2007) (a pharmacist was placed on unpaid leave after objecting to dispensing emergency contraception); Kenny
v. Ambulatory Ctr. of Miami, Inc., 400 So. 2d 1262 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1981) (nurse who refused to assist in
abortions was asked to resign and was placed on part-time status). For more instances of health care providers
with conscientious objections, see Comments of the American Center for Law and Justice on the Provider
Conscience  Regulation  Rescission  Proposal (Mar. 19, 2009), http://www.aclj.org/media/pdf/
ACLJOppositiontoHHSRescissionProposal.pdf (listing cases the American Center for Law and Justice has
litigated for individuals demoted or terminated on account of their conscience) (last visited Mar. 15, 2010); Rob
Stein, For Some There Is No Choice, WASH. POST, July 16, 2006, at A06.

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