Freedom of conscience and nursing in Manitoba

Sean Murphy*

Abstract

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]

Freedom of conscience and nursing in Alberta

Sean Murphy*

Introduction

Nursing has often been described as a “caring profession.” For historical reasons associated with the development of nursing, it appears that most nursing guidance documents use the terms “care” or “nursing care” with respect to all nurse-patient interactions, including interventions or treatments ordered by attending physicians.

This puts objecting nurses at a rhetorical disadvantage. Objections are made to treatments or interventions, not to caring. However, in a nursing context this is more readily perceived or characterized as “refusing to care.”

The failure to distinguish between “care” and “treatment” can introduce uncertainty into guidance about conscientious objection, which, for example, may insist that an objecting nurse continue to provide “care” for a patient until relieved, without specifying that the care does not include the treatment or intervention to which the nurse objects…[Full text]

Northern Ireland: Hundreds of medical professionals will refuse to provide abortion services, doctor warns

Northern Irish GP’s warning comes after abortion decriminalised in Northern Ireland

Independent

Maya Oppenheim

Hundreds of healthcare professionals in Northern Ireland will refuse to be involved in services which carry out abortions, a doctor has warned.

Abortion has long been illegal in Northern Ireland in almost all circumstances – including rape and incest – but the procedure was decriminalised in Northern Ireland on Tuesday.

Andrew Cupples, a Northern Irish GP who is strongly opposed to the liberalisation of abortion laws, has said a number of healthcare professionals have personally told him they would leave their jobs if they were made to carry out an abortion. . . [Full text]

Abortion: Hundreds of healthcare workers oppose new law

BBC News

Marie-Louise Connolly, Catherine Smyth

Hundreds of health professionals have written to the NI secretary expressing opposition to the liberalisation of NI’s abortion laws.

The doctors, nurses and midwives say their consciences will not allow them to stay silent on the issue.

They want reassurance as “conscientious objectors” that they will not have to perform or assist abortions.

Unless the NI assembly is restored by 21 October, restrictions on abortion in NI will be drastically reduced. . . . [Full text]

Why people choose medically assisted death revealed through conversations with nurses

The Conversation
Reproduced under Creative Commons Licence

Barbara Pesut*, and Sally Thorne*

Since Canada legalized Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) in 2016, as of Oct. 31, 2018, more than 6,700 Canadians have chosen medications to end their life.

Canadians who meet eligibility requirements can opt to self-administer or have a clinician administer these medications; the vast majority of people choosing MAiD have had their medications delivered by physicians or nurse practitioners. Canada is the first country to permit nurse practitioners to assess for medically assisted dying eligibility and to provide it. . . .

. . . Our most recent research involved interviews with 59 nurse practitioners or registered nurses across Canada who accompanied patients and families along the journey of medically assisted dying or who had chosen to conscientiously object. Nurses worked across the spectrum of care in acute, residential and home-care settings. . . .[Full Text]