Mauck & Baker Client Advocating for the Right of Conscience at Congressional Hearing

Earlier this month I had the privilege of traveling to Washington, D.C. with my friend and client Sandra Mendoza, a licensed practical nurse, to speak in support of the Conscience Protection Act. Sandra, who Mauck & Baker is representing in a lawsuit against Winnebago County in Illinois, lost her pediatric nursing position with the county health department after she refused to participate in the provision of abortion-related services. We went to Washington to tell her story and were privileged to speak with congressmen on both sides of the aisle about the importance of protecting everyone’s right of conscience.

On November 9, Sandra spoke at a press conference on the House Triangle outside the U.S. Capitol. Sandra was honored to speak with fellow nurses Cathy DeCarlo and Fe Finoya and to have Senator James Lankford, R.-Okla., Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., and Rep. Dan Lipinksi, D-Ill., at her side at the press conference. You can watch it here.

In 2004, nurse DeCarlo was compelled against her will to perform an abortion on a 22-week-old unborn infant. At the press conference, nurse DeCarlo recounted through tears the horror she experienced as she was made to watch the doctor dismember and remove the baby’s bloody limbs. Once the doctor was finished, she was left to account for all the pieces.

We are grateful for the representatives present who support the Conscience Protection Act, a bill to prohibit government discrimination against health providers who conscientiously object to being involved in abortion. “Being American has always been experiencing the freedom to live by the dictates of one’s deeply held beliefs,” said Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., who is one of the primary authors of the Conscience Protection Act. “We are not seeking to change anyone’s minds on abortion,” she said, “though I would hope one day they could. We are simply asking to protect the fundamental rights of Americans. No one, ever, should be forced to participate in killing an unborn child.”

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., who co-wrote the Conscience Protection Act, said, “Federal funds do not extend to forcing or compelling individuals to participate in abortion. That’s already settled law.”

Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., agreed stating, “If we cannot uphold these freedoms, [then] this is really a great detriment to our nation. We have to live up to our principles.”