Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 22, 2000
WCR Letters to the Editor
Health care workers must have freedom of conscienceThis is in response to the article in the April 24 WCR titled, "Pharmacists seek to protect life."
I am a newly retired Christian nurse who has enjoyed 45 years of nursing service. Twenty-three of those years were spent in British Columbia and the past 22 years were spent here in the Edmonton area.
Throughout my nursing experience, I have carried the certainty that I have the right as a professional woman to refuse my services in the areas that offend my conscience. I have always known too that this right is shared by any member of the health care team who has access to the patient's diagnosis.
During this period of 45 years it was necessary for me to voice this right only twice.
Once I was assigned a patient in an acute care public hospital who was to be prepared for a surgical abortion. My head nurse accepted my objection and merely assigned me to other patients.
The second situation was a new position in a rural clinic as the only nurse. After the first week on duty I was aware that the five doctors who shared the clinic routinely performed the insertion of IUDs and the minor surgery called vasectomy in their small clinical operating room.
When I voiced my objection to assisting for these procedures, these gentlemen sat down with me to discuss a workable solution. None of them shared my religious orientation.
In both of these situations I was fully aware of the rights of these patients to their choices and of the need for my discretion in their presence. I had been schooled this way at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver.
It distresses me greatly to think that these rights of conscience which have been part of our Christian heritage since the founding of North America are being challenged. Wasn't it Andrew Jackson who said in essence, and I paraphrase, I may not share your beliefs but I will defend to the death your right to believe them. It seems Safeway has forgotten its roots.
Health care professionals have the responsibility as men and women of science to provide the truth to their patients as best they know it. Human beings are able to give others their best service only when they themselves are given the freedom to provide their best. This is one of the truths that our whole North American culture is based upon.
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