In “Nurses, UMDNJ, Settle Lawsuit Regarding Moral Objections to Assisting at Abortions” (In the News, February), a key point was underemphasized: the difference between participating in the act of terminating a pregnancy and providing postoperative or supportive care.
Nurses should have the right to refuse to take part in an abortion based on moral objection. However, once the pregnancy is terminated, the nurse should no longer be able to refuse care. Doing so is no different than refusing to take care of a patient who was drinking and driving. These drivers are treated like all injured patients and entitled to the best possible care. Treating them doesn't imply that the nurse supports their actions, and the nurse wouldn't be allowed to refuse care.
In her October 2005 article in AJN, “When Providing Care Is a Moral Issue,” Joy Jacobson quotes Doug Olsen, PhD, RN, as saying that nurses have to protect both their rights and the rights of their patients. By refusing to take care of a patient postoperatively, we're failing to protect that patient.
Craig Sullivan, student nurse