National Association of Catholic Nurses-Canada
PO Box 19525, Manulife Centre, 55 Bloor St. West,
Toronto ON M4W 3T9
April 5, 2019
Center for Ethics and Human Rights Advisory Board,
American Nurses Association
To whom it may concern,
The National Association of Catholic Nurses-Canada urges the American Nurses Association to maintain its position that “participation in assisted suicide and euthanasia is strictly prohibited.” (ANA, 2013. Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide, and Aid in Dying.) This position statement represents a courageous voice of dissent that is valued both within and outside of the U.S.A.
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 to induced death at the patient’s request. Faith-based care facilities were and continue to be pressured to participate. Nurse practitioners were trained to prescribe and administer lethal medications to patients that they or others deem qualified for euthanasia.
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.
Social justice demands that nurses advocate for the protection of life, not for increased access to induced death as proposed in the 2019 draft statement, “The nurse’s role when a patient requests aid in dying.” Nursing participation in assisted suicide and euthanasia affirms the patient’s perception that life is not worth living, and represents the ultimate abandonment of the patient.
The Canadian experience provides evidence to support ANA’s continued resistance to these practices. We urge the ANA to maintain its courageous opposition to assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Freida Chavez, RN PhD FAAN,
Helen McGee, RN MN CPMHN(C)