Nurse quits job to avoid distributing "morning-after" pills

  1. Nurse quits job to avoid distributing "morning-after" pills

    By BOB JOHNSON
    Associated Press Writer

    Nine state health department nurses have resigned at least partly over concerns about the agency distributing emergency contraceptives, also known as "morning-after" pills, at family planning clinics.

    "The first time I had to do it, it made me physically sick and I told that to my supervisor," said Donna Tyner, who resigned from her job as a nurse practitioner at state public health clinics in the Montgomery area. She said she quit because she felt she was being required to distribute the pills, even though she is morally and religiously opposed to the process.

    Health department officials have said they were making accommodations for clinic workers who said they had moral concerns about using the pills, which women take after they have had intercourse. Dr. Tom Miller, family planning director for the health department, said the nine nurses resigned voluntarily and no employees have been fired for refusing to distribute the emergency contraceptives.

    But Tyner said she quit after she was told she had no other options when the health department began issuing the emergency contraceptives in April to women at its family planning clinics across the state.

    "I told my supervisor that I was not comfortable doing it," said Tyner, who is now working at private rural health clinics in Lee and Russell counties. "When she got back to me, she said it was part of the protocol and that if I refused to do it, the first time I'd be reprimanded and the second time I'd be terminated."

    Tyner said she has moral and religious objections to use of the emergency contraceptives, which consist of a heavy dose of birth control pills taken by a woman within 72 hours after she had intercourse.

    "The medical definition is that you are not pregnant until the egg implants. The Christian definition is that you are pregnant after conception," Tyner said.

    Miller said the emergency contraceptives do not cause a woman to abort a growing fetus, like the pill RU-486 does, but instead prevents a fertilized egg from attaching to the lining of the uterus.

    Tyner said that in counseling, women at the clinics are being told that the emergency contraceptives are one birth control option available to them.

    "It's one of the things you have to go over with them. We're encouraging promiscuous behavior," Tyner said.

    Miller said he respects the concerns of health department employees and has visited several clinics to discuss the issue with workers.

    "But I also have an obligation to provide services to our clients. It's not appropriate for me or any other group to dictate public health policy, based on personal beliefs," Miller said.

    Alabama Christian Coalition President John Giles said he has been contacted by "about a half-dozen" health department employees who said they had resigned over the issue.

    "There are probably another half-dozen who have called and said they are still employed and are having to administer the pills and don't want to administer the pills," Giles said.

    State Health Officer Don Williamson has said federal officials require states to make available a variety of birth control options to receive federal family planning money.

    The nine members of Alabama's congressional delegation have written a letter to Williamson "to clarify federal policy," which they said does not require distribution of emergency contraceptives to receive the federal funding.

    Gov. Bob Riley said Tuesday that he is concerned about the clinics distributing emergency contraceptives and has discussed the issue with Williamson.

    "I have been assured that accommodation is being made for anyone who objects," Riley said.

    Tyner said she hates that she had to quit her health department job.

    "There are very good people at the health department. It's a strong organization that does a lot of good for people," Tyner said. "I wouldn't have left if emergency contraception had not become an issue."

    http://www.timesdaily.com/apps/pbcs..../APN/406291023
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  2. 44 Comments

  3. by   fergus51
    I'm glad that nurse chose to seek employment elsewhere. If they are not able to perform their duties due to moral objections, they should be able to find a place that fits them better.
  4. by   Blackcat99
    When I worked at the state psych hospital, a doctor ordered one of those "morning after pills" for one of the psych patients. I'm glad they didn't ask me to give it or I would have refused to do it.
  5. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    Their choice to distribute. Her choice to quit. Like the job-quitting is going to make people at the health clinics think "gee maybe this is a bad idea."
  6. by   SmilingBluEyes
    She exercised her rights here. All in all it was good for both entities, the nurse and the employer.
  7. by   jnette
    Quote from SmilingBluEyes
    She exercised her rights here. All in all it was good for both entities, the nurse and the employer.
    Couldn't agree more.
  8. by   Amylcd
    I often wonder if these same people would have problems handing out birth control pills. They basically do the same thing, PREVENT pregnancy, not end it. Actually, I have a stash of BC that is only used for 'morning after'. (take 3 now, 3 in 12 hours) (yes, prescribed by my doctor.)
  9. by   Spidey's mom
    In my rusty old mind, when I was on bcp my understanding was it prevented ovulation so the egg and sperm never met up. :hatparty:

    I think this occurance was handled professionally by all. No one can force you to do something against your conscience.

    steph
  10. by   smk1
    slightly off-topic but isn't one of the morning after pills being released as OTC soon? I thought i heard this a couple of months back and there was some controversy surrounding the saftey of women (and girls) using this more often than they should. Does anyone know anything about this? Maybe I'll try to do a google search a little later.
  11. by   julieftRN
    Quote from LPN2Be2004
    Their choice to distribute. Her choice to quit. Like the job-quitting is going to make people at the health clinics think "gee maybe this is a bad idea."
    Its about sticking up for your values. What is their to advocate if you have no values?
  12. by   Energizer Bunny
    There was a thread a while back about them making them OTC. You might want to do a search..I don't know what ever became of the idea.
  13. by   Jailhouse RN
    You gotta what you gotta do. Live and work in your own beliefs.
  14. by   AnnaN5
    Quote from CNM2B
    There was a thread a while back about them making them OTC. You might want to do a search..I don't know what ever became of the idea.
    I think the FDA or whoever decided not to make the pills available over the counter for the fact that anyone regardless of age can get them. They also aren't sure of the long term effects of younger women who may use the morning after pill. I know in many places you have to have a parent/guardian signature to get birth control pills if you are under 18 so it seem odd if any aged person could just walk into a store and buy a morning after pill.

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