The intent for the development in 1988 of the New York State Nurses Association Position Statement on Abortion was in response to the increasing legislative activity concerning abortion law, as well as requests from the professional nursing community with regard to their rights and responsibilities and the rights of their patients pertaining to the issue of abortion. The New York State Nurses Association has, through its Councils on Ethical Practice and Human Rights, continued to study and research the issues surrounding abortion and reaffirms the position of the rights of women and nurses as they relate to elective and/or therapeutic abortion.
The New York State Nurses Association recognizes that:
- Women have individual rights to decide if they will bear a child and, under the law, they may decide to have a legal abortion.
- Women have the right to information regarding alternatives.
- The patient who chooses to have a legal abortion has a right to a timely procedure, as well as competent, supportive care, both physical and psychological.
- The patient who chooses to have a legal abortion has a right to freedom from imposition of other's beliefs or judgmental attitudes.
- The patient who chooses to have a legal abortion has a right to information and counseling in an environment where there is mutual trust and personalized care before, during and after the abortion is performed.
- The patient who chooses to have a legal abortion has a right to receive care in an environment that provides privacy and specific nursing expertise.
Registered Professional Nurses' Rights and Responsibilities include:
- The responsibility and obligation to provide competent and supportive nursing care.
- The responsibility to provide the patient with objective information and to offer access to resources before, during and after a voluntary termination of pregnancy.
- The responsibility to provide care without imposing personal beliefs on patients who choose to abort.
- A right to educational preparation, and the responsibility to obtain such, to assist and meet the emotional, physical and psychological needs of women who are considering or have had a voluntary termination of pregnancy.
- The right to their own moral, ethical and religious beliefs.
- The right to refuse to participate in a voluntary termination of pregnancy, except in an emergency situation, where the patient's needs do not allow for substitution.
- A right not to be subjected to coercion, censure or discipline for reasons of such refusal.
- A right and responsibility to seek employment in areas where the care of women choosing abortions will not be assigned.
The New York Nurses Association and the Councils on Ethical Practice and Human Rights support the following actions for professional registered nursing with regard to abortion procedures:
Approved by the Board of Directors, 5/18-19/88, 3/90. Reviewed/Revised by the Councils on Ethical Practice and Human Rights on 8/27/04. Approved by the Board of Directors on 9/15/04.
Note: The use of the term “patient” anywhere in this document is intended to be generic and refers to the recipient of nursing care.
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“Gould's Consolidated Laws of New York” (2004), Chapter 6 - Civil Rights Law, Article 7 - Miscellaneous rights, Section 79-I - Discrimination against person who refuses to perform certain acts prohibited.
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“Nurses rights and responsibilities related to abortion and sterilization.” (1999). Retrieved July 14, 2004, from http://www.awhonn.org/awhonn/?pg=873-6230-7000-4810-5620-7360
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“Who decides? A state-by-state report on the status of women's reproductive rights.” (2004). Retrieved July 16, 2004, from http://www.naral.org/yourstate/whodecides/states/newyork/refusal.cfm
For more information on nursing practice, contact NYSNA's Education, Practice and Research Program at 518.782.9400, ext. 282 or by e-mail.