From Abortion to Euthanasia: Nurses on the Spot
Transcript from "Euthanasia: A Right to Die?"
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
10 November, 1991
British Columbia, Canada
During a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation televised forum on
euthanasia, a member of the audience objected to the use of the term
"contract killer" by Cecilia Von Dehn, panelist representing Nurses for
Von Dehn's explanation was challenged by panelist Eike-Henner Kluge,
consultant in biomedical ethics and professor of philosophy in the
University of Victoria, British Columbia. [Administrator]
VD: Cecilia Von Dehn
EK: Eike Kluge
VD: Maybe I can answer that. You see the
nurses are employed by the government. We are
employed to carry out hospital hiring policies. Um,
I could be weeded out if I don't go along with
euthanasia. I have a contract. I have my nurse's, my
RNABC contract as well. If it becomes a policy under
the RNABC, if it becomes a policy under the hospital
hiring policy, I am in contract to kill. It's as
simple as that.
EK: With, with all respect, that's not
true. It always has been and will continue to be a
policy of any professional medical organization or
nursing organization, if you object to a particular
procedure as a matter of conscience, you have the
right to say so, and to be excused from that, and
you will not be disciplined for that.
Linda Bradley (LB)
, a member of the
audience, joins the discussion. She
contradicts Professor Kluge by explaining how
she had lost her job for refusing to participate
in a late term abortion [See
Nurse refused employment, forced to resign
LB: I'd like to make a comment on Dr.
Kluge's statement earlier about caregivers being
protected in the hospitals. Speaking from personal
experience, I was working as a registered nurse in
the operating room. I was assigned to do a
hysterotomy. Uh, for those unfamiliar with the term,
that is, is a caesarean section for the sole purpose
of removing the fetus and allowing the fetus to die.
And, refusing to do this procedure, I was asked to
resign from the hospital. I went to the Human Rights
Commission. I was asked, "What religion are you?"
I said, "I am a Catholic."
And they said, "Fine, great, you can fight it on
Cath...on, on religious grounds."
I said, "No. Just because I am Catholic is not
for, is, is not a position for me to take a stand. I
know inherently, 'Thou shalt not kill' is wrong, and
it is not because I am a Catholic that it is wrong
Human Rights denied, denied me the right to
pursue my right to employment because they said
there is no grounds for morical, moral or ethical
beliefs. Only religious beliefs. And yet, earlier,
and yesterday, you said religious, we, we, should
not enforce our religious beliefs on society, and
yet, my moral beliefs are not respected, and I lose,
lost my job.
EK: I'm very sorry that this has happened
to you, obviously, as all of us are. And my reaction
to that is very simple. RNABC has its own rules. The
Registered Nurses Association of British Columbia
has its own rules, which indicate very clearly that
on matters of conscience, the nurse has the right to
exempt herself from particular services. If they did
not defend you, I would be willing to go right with
you, right now, and take it up with them. This is a
matter of right, and I will take it right up to the
Supreme Court if necessary.
LB: The RNABC made the statement that the
rights of the hospital come first. And because I was
assigned to work in the operating room, I must be
willing to per, perform every procedure in the
operating room, and that if I refused, then other
nurses will refuse, and there would be anarchy.
Anarchy. No, the hospital's rights come first.
According to them.
VD: That's absolutely true, absolutely