Ontario nurses may win the right to refuse to assist with abortions in their next contract. To date, nurses who work in abortion-performing hospitals in Ontario have been left with little choice when it comes to the abortion issue. Credit Valley Hospital in Toronto was picketed by members of Nurses for Life when they moved their abortion facility to the pediatric floor. This meant that Pediatric nurses, who specialize in saving the lives of children, must assist with abortions or lose their jobs. Nurses who work in Obstetrics, Med-Surg, Surgery, Recovery, Emergency, Pediatrics, and Out-Patients, are often required to assist with abortions. Most abortion-performing hospitals will not allow their nurses to opt out of assisting with abortions.

Mary-Lynn McPherson, national co-ordinator of Nurses for Life, stated: “It appears that many nursing schools are teaching a double ethic. Although it is taught that when a woman is pregnant the nurse has two patients, it is also usually stressed that abortion is a woman’s choice, and that nurses must not impose their “personal” view on others. Not only have these nursing schools ignored the humanity of the unborn patient, they have forgotten that over 95% of nurses are women, and that these nurses very often have no choice.”

The campaign was spearheaded by Diane Petrucka, President of Nurses for Life Sudbury, who lobbied ONA to include the right to refuse to assist with abortions as part of its pre-contract negotiation discussions. Mrs. Petrucka worked for months, into her vacation, to urge ONA to include the abortion issue in its Have a Say Questionnaire…

Nurses for Life encourages all members of ONA to respond to the Have a Say Questionnaire, which this year includes the question: “Do you feel that nurses should have the right to refuse to assist with abortions without fear of recriminations of nay kind and without jeopardizing any rights under the Collective Agreement? The questionnaire must be returned before October 31, 1989.