For the most part, the codes of ethics and standards of Manitoba’s nurse regulators provide little insight into the regulators’ approach to freedom of conscience for nurses, and frequent failure to distinguish between “care” and “treatment” often impairs discussion of conscientious objection. The College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Manitoba code and standards appear inclined to separate personal and professional integrity, giving priority to the latter at the expense of the former. This encourages the view that nurses must leave their personal integrity in the parking lot when they report for work.
The regulators’ views about freedom of conscience for nurses are most clearly demonstrated in the joint publication Duty to Provide Care (2019). They recognize conscientious objection only to providing a service. They fail to recognize (or are unwilling to admit) that one can legitimately refuse to encourage or facilitate a service for reasons of conscience. Consistent with this, they demand that objecting nurses provide effective referral for all morally contested procedures, including euthanasia and accepted suicide. This would be unacceptable to anyone who believes that it is immoral to facilitate what one believes to be immoral.
Unlike earlier guidelines for euthanasia and assisted suicide, Duty to Provide Care (2019) fails to clearly distinguish between “care” and procedures or interventions, and it does not acknowledge the duty of employers (and regulators) to accommodate nurses in the exercise of freedom of conscience. . . [Full text]