Survey of Nurses Rights In Abortion - page 2

WITHOUT STARTING A FLAME WAR, OR A HOLY CRUSADE!! The thread in OB/GYN nursing got me wondering. Does a nurse have a right to refuse to participate in certain procedures, if s/he feels those... Read More

  1. by   edib1
    Quote from Hellllllo Nurse
    Many things I have been required to do in nursing conflict with my personal morals and ethics. Two examples are giving tube-feedings to LTC pts in a chronic vegetative state, and participating in providing futile "life extending" measures to dying pts, when all it does is prolong their suffering and delay the inevitable.

    However, as a nurse, I feel it's my duty to "suck it up" and provide care that conflicts with my personal beliefs, if it's in my assignment to do so.

    When I worked LTC, I was often the only nurse in the building. In every LTC facility I've ever worked in, their are pts on tube-feedings who have no quality of life whatsoever. If I had chosen to refuse to tube-feed these pts, I would not have been able to work in LTC.

    I work in dialysis now, and often must do tx on pts whom I feel are not appropriate for it. Such as pts w/ severe Alzheimer's disease. This goes against my personal ethics, but it's not for me to decide.
    Well said, Well said!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    As nurses there are alot of things that must be done in order to care for the patient. We choose the life of being a nurse and therefore must perform procedures that we do not agree with, but in turn it is not our choice, we are doing what needs to be done. Therefore if you dont like to see patients hooked up on every machine possible dont work in ICU, if you cant handle drug seekers and trauma dont work in the ER, sick babies NICU.......

    I just feel that as nurses we should not judge patients for what decisions they make. No one is forcing us to do anything that we do not want to do, but we should not make people feel bad for their decisions. We choose were we want to be. When I was 20 I had an abortion it was the hardest decision of my life but I did what I felt was the right decision for me. The NP that was treating me was objecting my decision." Are you sure that you want to do this, you know that you dont have to do this, do you not have a mother that can help you" First of all it was none of her damn buisness its her job to help me with my decision, or get someone else involved that is willing to show me compassion. To top that off at the abortion clininc I have some freaking crazy woman following me around telling me not to kill, that god will not forgive me. I am sorry when I looked at this woman she did not look as though she could heal people or walk on water. I felt like sh*t, that was not right it was something that I choose to do. Now as a nurse I never judge anyone, I give them the compassion that they need. That is my job, to give love and care no matter what. Thats what I signed up for!!!!!!
  2. by   Spidey's mom
    I don't think we can compare having to access a feeding tube on a person in a vegetative state to assisting in an abortion. You may not think it is a good idea to place a feeding tube in a person, however you are doing nothing to end their life.

    For those of us who believe that abortion stops a beating heart, there is a huge difference.

    One takes a life, one merely prolongs it.

    I personally think there is a difference.

    And don't think any nurse should be forced to work in an area in which they disagree with the care. And the fact is, we have the legal right to refuse to participate in abortion so I'm not really sure why we are having this discussion.

    Except to see how people really feel regardless of the law.

    steph
  3. by   jkaee
    Well said, Steph. As a LTC nurse, the definitely is a difference between not agreeing with the way someone has chosen to live their lives (with a GT, wanting all heroic measures, no pain meds or too many, etc) and performing a procedure that is morally or religously wrong for you. You can care for someone and say to yourself, "I wouldn't want this for me or my loved ones." But for those of us that consider abortion murder, there is no other choice for us than to refuse. I wouldn't assist in an abortion, the same way I wouldn't help with an assisted suicide, if it were legal. For me, physical life begins at conception and ends at death. I can't forcibly end it at any point.

    I agree with other posters that one should not take a job where they would be expected to perform duties that went against her beliefs frequently. I was offered a job at a large city L&D floor. After researching the hospital, I decided that it would be too hard for me to deal with drug babies, very young moms, broken families, etc. as this was the norm in this hospital. There was no "moral or religious" reason why I couldn't do it, I just knew emotionally I couldn't handle it. I didn't start and tell the staff "You have to take all the drug moms and babies and 13year olds....I'll take only the marrieds or older professionals." That wouldn't be right or fair. So I didn't take the job.

    Okay, I just got off an insane night at work, so I'll stop now.

    Goodnight!
  4. by   moia
    I am always confused about these discussions. I have always assumed that by the end of nursing school all those who had these conflicts would have been weeded out.
    I can never understand people who graduate from nursing school and accept a position in a hospital that performs abortions and then they announce they have moral or ethical complaints.
    I think it is the nurses responsiblity to find a job in a hospital that respects their beliefs. I do not accept the right to refuse care under these circumstances. You took the job, if you think that the hospital and the doctors are committing murder why are you working there?
    Nurses that have a strong conviction that some procedures are for them a criminal act need to take responsibility for that belief and find employment that doesn't violate their beliefs.
    It is not the employers duty to reassign nurses on that basis, it is the nurses responsibility to make absolutely sure the conflict won't happen.
    Patients request procedures that are legal, a nurse has absolutely no right to harass a patient over personal beliefs and they certainly don't have the right to harass coworkers and employers over it.
    The hospital exists for delivering health care it is not a forum for religious or political discussion.
    Just because you have a religious or political opinion doesn't mean you are entitled to special treatment, your beliefs are your own responsibility.
    Personally I would be happy to never ever know what my coworkers beliefs are as it is not my business.
    There are an enormous amount of hospitals that don't do any abortions, choose one of those and be happy.
  5. by   Spidey's mom
    I don't think anyone here has said we think we should have the right to get a job in a place that does abortions but our co-workers need to do all the work. I think Jennifer and others have spelled it out pretty clearly that you need to realize what your values and beliefs are before taking a job. And as Jen mentioned, it isn't just moral beliefs . . . . . if you find it difficult to work with moms who use drugs and deliver babes with drugs in their system, don't take that job, which Jen didn't. Or LTC patients who need feeding tubes. And I wouldn't use the word "harass" to describe the choices some of us make. The patient need never know and would not be harassed.

    I dunno, maybe you've personally run into someone who took a job at an abortion clinic and then refused to help but for the most part I think nurses do a better job than that.

    steph
  6. by   kmchugh
    I think that Moia, HelloNurse and others DO have a point. Did we come into nursing to care for those who needed nursing care, or did we become nurses so we could pick who we cared for based on our moral values? It is an interesting dilemma.

    I also believe that a nurse has no business taking a job in a place that routinely performs procedures that are contrary to the nurse's moral beliefs. But, let me give you a "what if" question.

    Prior to becoming a CRNA, I, like Elenaster, spent my time in ICU and ER nursing. I worked primarily in a hospital that was part of the Columbia chain. Of course, the hospital did not perform abortions, because the corporation did not want that kind of publicity. However, as a for profit entity, I feel fairly confident they would have, if they could have done so without generating a negative image to the public. So, for the sake of argument, lets say they were doing them.

    I work in the ICU, caring for very sick patients. I accepted that position, knowing that while it might present me with some ethical dilemmas (and it did), I would not, as an ICU nurse, be expected to participate in abortions. Suppose I came in one shift, and was told our census was low, and I was being floated to the pregnancy termination clinic, as they had had two call ins. I would not be expected to participate in the actual abortions, but would be there to prep the women for the procedure, start IV's etc. Would I have the right to refuse that float based on my moral belief that abortion was wrong, and it would be morally wrong for me to even participate in preparing women for the procedure?

    Let's even go a step further: Suppose that there were severe complications to an abortion, and that patient needed to be placed in the ICU. Would I have the right to refuse to care for this patient based on my moral beliefs? (My answer to that is no. My moral objections to abortion should have no impact on my caring for a patient who has already had an abortion.)

    Kevin McHugh
    Last edit by kmchugh on Mar 26, '04
  7. by   kmchugh
    By the way, my interest here is pretty academic. I know my own feelings on these questions, but I'm not willing to jump up and say I'm right and "they" are wrong. There are some very strong arguments on both sides of the question.

    However, these questions draw me, because they are the kinds of questions that make you squirm in your seat a little bit, and say "Wellllll.............." I don't think that subjecting your moral beliefs to a very difficult challenge once in a while does any harm at all.

    KM
  8. by   fergus51
    Well, I am always willing to say I'm right and they're wrong Just kidding!

    Seriously, I understand the argument that we went into nursing to provide care and should do anything our patient wants, but I just don't think it's realistic. It assumes that we are machine like. I am a real person with real morals and don't see what forcing me to compromise my morals will accomplish for my patients. You could say I don't deserve to be a nurse, but I actually think I am a pretty good nurse.

    Honestly, do you think a woman having an abortion wants a nurse there who thinks it's murder and is only there because her employer doesn't allow her not to? We went into nursing to serve our patients, and I can't see how that is serving them.
  9. by   Energizer Bunny
    Quote from gwenith
    Yes she should have the right to refuse with the one caveat - you should not enter a job where you would expect to deal with this on a daily basis i.e. dont go to work for an abortion clinic if you do not agree with it. Same for blood transfusions - do not work in an area where you are expected to administer them on a daily basis if this is against your beliefs. Most people will respect your wishes and not force you into something you find uncomfortable.
    I couldn't have said it better. This is exactly how I feel as well.
  10. by   Energizer Bunny
    Quote from fergus51
    Honestly, do you think a woman having an abortion wants a nurse there who thinks it's murder and is only there because her employer doesn't allow her not to? We went into nursing to serve our patients, and I can't see how that is serving them.
    Yet another VERY good point made here!
  11. by   jkaee
    [QUOTE=kmchugh]

    I work in the ICU, caring for very sick patients. I accepted that position, knowing that while it might present me with some ethical dilemmas (and it did), I would not, as an ICU nurse, be expected to participate in abortions. Suppose I came in one shift, and was told our census was low, and I was being floated to the pregnancy termination clinic, as they had had two call ins. I would not be expected to participate in the actual abortions, but would be there to prep the women for the procedure, start IV's etc. Would I have the right to refuse that float based on my moral belief that abortion was wrong, and it would be morally wrong for me to even participate in preparing women for the procedure?"



    This is an interesting point, Kevin. I don't know what I would do if I would be floated to a unit that did abortions, but I wouldn't have to actually assist with the abortion. My "moral" side says that I can't be involved in the procedure no matter what it is I'm doing, however, the "nurse" side of me feels that I could help by starting IV's, taking baseline vitals, drawing blood, etc. It would be a struggle between the two sides of my personality, but I think I'd have to refuse because in essence I'd be assisting someone in ending a life, even if I wasn't present for the acutual procedure. That's how strong my convictions are. But, in all honsety, this has never been an issue, either for myself or from speaking with other nurses that work in other hospitals.


    I agree with you, too, regarding post-abortion care. I would certainly take care of a woman if she came in with complications post-abortion. After the abortion, she would be just like any other patient to me, and my treatment of her would be compassionate and non-judgemental, and I think that the majority of nurses who are anti-abortion would do the same.
    Last edit by jkaee on Mar 26, '04
  12. by   Spidey's mom
    Kevin . . . I think you are using two different examples.

    One is having to float and start IV's etc., to assist with an abortion. I'd say no.

    The other is a patient after the abortion with complications. Of course you would be that person's nurse.

    Thought-provoking though . . .

    steph
  13. by   Elenaster
    I think that Kevin is just trying to challenge our thinking on ethical dilemmas related to our nursing practice. Choosing a very polarized issue, such as abortion, provides the opportunity for us to take a subject that we have very strong convictions about and applying those thought and feeling to other moral conflicts we may encounter. Stating that you can't compare abortion to anything else is a huge oversimplicfication and misses the point of this academic exercise entirely.

    Years ago, when I was much younger and thought I had all the answers, I took a philosophy-based healthcare ethics course that really opened my eyes and mind to my own prejudices and limitations in thinking. During the course of that class, we studied health care case law and had many, many heated discussions about the ethical issues contained in those cases. Abortion is by no means the only subject that evokes strong reactions in people, nor is it as black-and-white as many try to paint it. Most ethical issues are extremely complex, and have at least one scenario that can at least plant a seed of doubt in even the most convicted person.

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