Friday, April 12, 2019

While Opposition to Nursing Involvement in Assisted Suicide Grows, a Dire Warning from Canada

This article was published by Nancy Valko on April 12, 2019

Nancy Valko
By Nancy Valko

In March, I wrote a blog “Is the American Nurses Association Ready to Drop Opposition to Assisted Suicide?” about the ANA draft position paper changing its stance from opposition to assisted suicide to “The Nurse’s Role When a Patient Requests Aid in Dying”. “Aid in Dying” is the ANA’s new term for assisted suicide. I included a link for public comments on this change that gave a deadline of April 8, 2019.

Although the ANA claims that it ‘is the premier organization representing the interests of the nation’s 4 million registered nurses’, less than ten percent of the nation’s nurses are members of the ANA or other professional organizations” and that number is declining.

I belonged to the ANA decades ago but left when I saw the organization take radical positions without even informing us. Now, no nurse I know belong-unless he or she is in politics, academia or administration.

Even though I regularly get medical and nursing news updates along with constant ads from the ANA, I never see ANA’s proposed new position changes on hot button issues like VSED (voluntary stopping of eating and drinking to hasten death) and assisted suicide until alerted by people in my network. Unfortunately, although some of us wrote public comments opposing nursing involvement in VSED, the ANA approved the change.

This time, the ANA’s draft position on assisted suicide led to an outpouring of criticisms and pleas not to approve the change.

Some Responses to the ANA Draft Recommendations

The Catholic Medical Association issued a statement opposing the ANA’s draft position stating:

“These guidelines compromise not only the patient’s life, but also the conscience rights of nurses everywhere,” said Dr. John Schirger, President of the CMA.”

“A nurse or any health care provider should never abandon a patient or refuse comfort and care to a patient. But AID is not care and is the ultimate abandonment of a patient. Forcing the nurse to facilitate AID makes the nurse complicit in such abandonment,” said Dr. Marie Hilliard, Co-Chair of the CMA’s Ethics Committee.”
The National Association of Catholic Nurses issued their comments on the ANA’s draft such as:
“All the legal system can do is decriminalize AID so that nurses and physicians are not prosecuted for killing patients or helping them to kill themselves. AID is the antithesis of social justice.”

“Nursing is a moral endeavor and much is at stake when nurses breach the moral obligation to first do no harm. Harm is precisely what support of AID does. It harms the patient who is killed, the nurse who must make themselves indifferent to the patient’s suffering and convince themselves that killing is okay, the professional relationship that is built on trust that the nurse will not harm the patient, and society that will come to view nurses as potential accomplices in killing rather than as true healers and providers of authentic compassionate care. As Florence Nightingale is quoted to have said, “The very first requirement in a hospital, is that it should do the sick no harm.”
The National Association of Pro-life Nurses (NAPN) responded in their comments that:
“Social and legislative shifts” do not make a previously immoral act moral. ”

“Aid in dying IS euthanasia. It is the deliberate taking of a life whether it is requested by the patient or not.”
Wesley Smith of the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism asked “Now Will Nurses Only Prevent Some Suicides?” wrote:
“I hope the membership of the ANA will oppose their leaders’ attempt to accommodate the culture of death. If nurses become “non-judgmental” — e.g., indifferent — to some suicides, the consequent failure to request specialized preventative interventions could become the precipitating omission that sends some suicidal patients into the abyss.”
Over 1000 people signed an online petition opposing the ANA draft position by the April 8, 2019 deadline.

A dire warning from Canada

The Canadian Catholic Nurses joined the National Association of Catholic Nurse in opposing the ANA’s draft position and gave a chilling look at what may be our future if legalized assisted suicide is not stopped:

“Our association formed in 2018 primarily in response to Canadian nurses’ moral distress regarding the nation-wide legalization of medically induced death. Professional associations and licensing bodies across Canada endorsed the legal changes, requiring conscientious objectors to participate in “Medical Assistance in Dying” by “effective referral” to facilitate access at the patient’s request. Faith-based health care facilities are pressured to participate. Nurse practitioners are trained and qualified to prescribe and administer lethal doses of medication to patients that they or others deem eligible for euthanasia.”
Social justice demands that nurses advocate for the protection of life until natural death, not for increased access to induced death. The Canadian experience with assisted suicide and euthanasia provides evidence for your continued resistance to the practice.

Unlike Oregon, Canada has not experienced a growth in palliative care along with the rapid expansion of induced death. Instead, we experience ongoing demands for access to lethal injections for new categories of patients, including “mature minors;” those who write advanced directives; and those whose mental illness is the sole condition underlying their request. We urge the ANA to maintain its courageous opposition to assisted suicide and euthanasia.” (All emphasis added)”

Legalized assisted suicide is more than a legal, medical or nursing problem. It is a corrupting influence on our society that will destroy the essential protections of truly ethical healthcare for us all.


Suzanne J. said...

I live in Ottawa, Ontario, in Canada. There is only 1 Palliative Care Hospital here, run by Catholic Sisters of Charity; and it is full to capacity. I am literally terrified to go to any other hospital here because I am 71 years old, and have MULTIPLE health conditions. I literally CANNOT TRUST that some Nurse or Doctor won't slip me a little 'extra' medication that would certainly, end up KILLING me! To ALL nurses caught up in this INSANE situation, I ask you all to band together AGAINST this 'FALSE COMPASSION' ... and CONTINUE TO PROVIDE the CARE to help your patients make a GOOD END to their lives. Help them to die a 'GOOD' death; with their loved ones around them.

Christian Ease said...

This is truly something we must continue to fight! I began researching euthanasia in 1989 and have watched it's devastating and steady progress. "Assisting" someone to die is murder of the one who dies and death to the conscience of the facilitator.

pamela said...

In response to what I've seen and heard, there is this emphasis on the "morphine push", which hastens death. If you want someone there, for support, there are volunteers that sit at a client's bed. I think many people in society could be selected to be present when someone is dying, to offer a hand, a consoling prayer, read a passage from the Bible. It would give the families and patients and staff the needed boost...Pamela

Anonymous said...

Charity A, US >God bless you and I will pray for you. We held it off here in liberal MD once again but it is getting harder. I am in mortal fear that, if the US moves to a national health system, this will become mandatory, without regard to either a providers conscience or an elderly patient's wishes.

Unknown said...

As a nurse for 46 years [now retired] I have seen a change in the motivation to become a nurse. Sadly it has become a means to earn a good wage. "Caring' is no longer accepted as motivation to train as a nurse by most nursing schools, if fact it is often a reason to decline the application. Many young nurses aspire to become 'educators' or managers, leaving a shortage in bedside care. In today's political climate MAID is seen much like therapeutic abortion, as a means to facilitate an individual's choice. Some nurses will need to make an ethical decision to quit or bend to accommodate the regulations, as to refuse to participate will be interpreted as 'abandonment of patient' which will lead to dismissal.

Mary said...

Thank you for posting this article. I submitted feedback in opposition to the ANA draft, and misleading language. It is helpful to read about the ANA membership, only 10% of U.S. nurses belonging to this organization, however they are in academia and are adopting the pro-assisted suicide language, rather than speaking honestly.

Paul Anderson said...

Suzanne J. makes an excellent point. The practice of MAiD has resulted in a shift of public perception in regard to our health care system. For many, a hospital is no longer perceived as a safe place to be if you are elderly or if you have complicated or chronic illness. The physician is no longer assumed to be necessarily committed to helping a person maintain their health or recover from illness. The bond of trust has been broken by MAiD.

gordon friesen said...

I hope there are numerous Americans reading this thread, because it truly highlights what is at stake in your own current healthcare debate.

Single payer AKA "social" medicine, as existing in Canada, is a monopoly which excludes competition. The current model, whatever that might be, propagates out across the nation in cookie-cutter fashion to all hospitals, clinics, medical schools, and so on.

Legal change in the realm of assisted suicide and euthanasia, simply means decriminalizing the act and allowing willing patients and doctors collaborate therein.

As long as the medical market is "free" the damage that can do (while substantial) has limits : Doctors and hospitals can advertise their opposition to those practices, and patients can find those doctors and hospitals, supporting their position by voting with their wallets. The result is, that most institutions in States permitting assisted suicide, do NOT allow it by their staff or within their walls.

In Canada, however, from the moment it became legal, it became (as a basic element of "social justice") a service available to all, everywhere (in virtually every single hospital in the country), and at all times.

So now we have comments such as that of Suzanne above, to the effect that she is afraid to go to the hospital. Well, she is not alone. So am I.And whereas this would be a self-correcting problem in a free medical market, in Canada, it is an artificial and permanent constraint.

At some point, Canadians will have to realize that our ever decreasing quality of medical care (two operating theaters were shut down indefinitely this week at the larges children's hospital in Montreal for lack of staff), is not in spite, but BECAUSE of our crown jewel: socialist health care.

And Americans, as I began by saying, should realize right now what will be lost if they make the same mistake.

Best Regards,

Gordon Friesen, Montreal

Unknown said...


Annie Law said...

This is not only so wrong, it is scary. How are we able to trust any medical professional, or nurse anymore. We, as a patient, cannot know which nurses, or doctors are ok with killing patients no matter whether that patient wants to live, or wants to die. Some nurses have been doing this for over a decade already. They act like they care, and will even joke with the patient while planning his death. I know this for a fact! I would not trust a nurse to not put something in my IV to hasten my death, even though not all nurses would do that. I could not distinguish who has a conscience and who hasn't. I would not trust medical professionals with my loved ones either. There is nothing good about euthanasia (killing those who do not want to die). Even those who want to live are not given a choice. It is also so very wrong to try to force doctors and nurses or others to enable or kill a patient, especially when it goes against their conscience and/or faith. No doctor should have to refer a patient to another doctor to help kill them either. That is something that will also not be agreeable to anyone with a conscience and will go against their faith. Hospitals should be a safe place to go when you are injured or sick, not a place where your chances of being offed are greater if you are elderly, have mental problems, or a terminal illness. All medical professionals including nurses should abide by the Hippocratic oath to do no harm! We should be able to trust those who are responsible for our medical needs in a hospital, whether meds, or other.

This also goes on at nursing homes. They starve the patient. Scary.

Nan said...

I was power of attorney for a lady a very few years ago. She was quite deaf and had macular degeneration so difficult to communicate. She was 72 when she was sent home from hospital after only a few hours in with a bladder infection and quite disoriented and sick. As a result she fell and broke her right humerus and hip. The anesthetic rendered her incoherent for weeks but she carried on an intelligent conversation with me. I received a call two days later saying she was dying. (5am) and went to the hospital. She was in a stupor and slow breathing. The doctor came in and I challenged him about
giving her morphine. He went out and came with a syringe. I said, what's that. It was an antidote for morphine. Within 10 minutes she and I were having a conversation and she was eating grapes (her favourite). Shortly after that, I arrived to find that she had been left unrestrained and in a chair 6 feet from her bed. She fell and broke her knee cap. The nurse's comment was: well that you can't do anything for a broken knee cap. I'm not stupid. 2 days later I received a call saying she had been in distress at night, and had slipped away. Dead at 72. I am certain, from an overdosing morphine patch. Impossible to prove. No autopsy. Nothing. Her doctor had told me before she should not go to an apartment. He was annoyed we got her a few more years of independence. He was the attending physician and I never trusted him. Complaining was useless. I lodged a complaint with the College of Physicians and Surgeons. Her care and neglect in that hospital. Nothing happened but another lady I am power of attorney for was in the hospital and boy, they took good care of her!! At least it was something. My advice: make sure you have someone with you if you go to a hospital and cannot trust the physician and staff.

gordon friesen said...

Strategic suggestion:

1. encourage people to share their fears
2. Demand/produce research to show how many people feel such fears
3. Demonstrate that in a large basin like Montreal or Toronto that number is more than adequate to justify the maintenance of euthanasia-free facilities staffed by self-identified hard-core hippocratians.
4. Demand satisfaction for this sector of the market.

Gordon Friesen, Montreal

P.S. Choice is possible in a public system, it is just less natural and requires more work.

Darrell Johnson said...

From Paul Anderson's post, this ending comment really got my attention: "The bond of trust has been broken by MAiD."

In reacting to other posts, it seems obvious that one's trust in the Canadian medical system is shattered. When a person begins to have more medical issues and with the rising costs of medical care, medical practitioners may rationalize that we're a liability and prescribe MAiD without our consent.


Jackie P. said...

I'm a Registered Nurse in Calgary. The first thing I thought when my Dad in an Edmonton-hospital was changed from a R3 to a C1, Goal of Care, was "Don't kill him". Why? Because sometimes impatient healthcare staff (Drs and nurses) and family think C1 means "Palliative Sedation" and will sedate a patient into unconsciousness/death (which is not always necessary or desired). I had to call the staff and request that they treat only symptoms and let him remain conscious so he could know he was not alone and could hear the words of prayer while dying. When he did die, in the early morning hours, I dared not ask who his nurse was. There was one I didn't trust. Trust. It's essential.

Anonymous said...

To Jackie p Why would u not be at ur fathers bedside being a nurse if u didn't trust them? Retired nurse

Deacon Bill Gallerizzo said...

Statistically, prior to DWD, Oregon was a national leader in palliative and hospice care. Since ratifying DWD, Oregon is at 3rd worst in the nation with trustful and compassionate care falling drastically short of adequate.