Speaker of the House Paul Ryan honored nurse Cathy DeCarlo on Thursday as a role model of American virtue for her refusal to perform abortions.

Ryan spoke of DeCarlo at the 2018 Road to Majority conference hosted by the Faith and Freedom Coalition, who presented him with the Friend of the Family Award. Ryan extolled her as an example of the kind of stalwart adherence to principles that has enabled the pro-life movement to win legislative victories, like the Hyde Amendment and the House’s passage of Micah’s Law, for which it has fought for years.


“Beyond the policies and initiatives, you have built this beautiful pro-life movement,” Ryan said to the coalition. “It is a movement based on love. It’s a movement based on dignity. It’s a movement based on inclusion. You know, I tried to honor this work by inviting Cathy DeCarlos to be one of my guests at this year’s State of the Union.”

Ryan told of how DeCarlo faced the opposition of her hospital staff superiors when they tried to force her to help perform an abortion.

“As a nurse in Brooklyn, the hospital that Cathy worked at, they wanted to force her to assist with a late-term abortion. Force her to do it. Because of her religious beliefs, she of course objected, and the hospital threatened her with disciplinary action,” Ryan said. “And in the face of this, Cathy DeCarlos stood strong. She didn’t give in and she fought for religious rights that this country guarantees her.”

While DeCarlo did not perform the abortion in 2010, her supervisors at Mount Sinai Hospital coerced her into aiding the doctors involved by accounting for the pieces of the dismembered baby after they killed it. They convinced her to participate by claiming that the mother’s life was in imminent danger. The claim, according to DeCarlo, turned out to be a lie and she sought the help of Alliance Defending Freedom to sue the hospital.

The hospital changed its policy in 2012 after an investigation, allowing for all staff members to act according to their deeply held beliefs.

“Now, Cathy, she is a nationwide advocate for religious freedom,” standing up for other believers in the medical industry who face the “unjust dilemma” of choosing between their conscience and their job, Ryan said.

“Those are the kind of people that America produces. And we need to keep highlighting their courage, we need to keep standing up for our constitutional rights of religious freedom and conscience,” he added.

Ryan warned, however, that DeCarlo’s example should also serve as a reminder of how hard the pro-life movement has had to work for its accomplishments and how much those who oppose it will work to undo those victories.

“As we think about the people who inspire us, we have to remember that there are those who want to strip away our accomplishments. We have to remember that that’s why this year’s midterm elections are so important,” Ryan said.

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