As a future RN....

I am almost done RN school - one semester and a few practicums left. In the past (before returning to the church), I have cared for a woman who had had a therapeutic abortion. I will be doing another surgical rotation this summer, and will probably care for a variety of patients, some of which may have had things like abortion, depending on which surgical floor I’m placed on.

I have a feeling I’m not supposed to care for patients who have had abortions, based on Catholic beliefs. However, it seems that those beliefs also mean I should love and care for everyone who comes into my care, even if I do not agree with their actions. For all I know, they may be a lapsed Catholic, and me showing compassion may help them realize the error of their ways down the road and come back to the church.

My school is NOT spiritually based in any way - I am pretty sure I would receive an “unsatisfactory” (which is essentially a fail) if I refused care for a patient, meaning I would not be able to pass onto the next practicum or semester.

I’m really torn, because I cannot really see it as a sin to be doing my duty caring for people, even though they’ve done something I see as a sin. I don’t know if that makes sense. :frowning:

Have you spoken to a trusted priest about this? I can understand the dilemma you are in. I would most certainly refuse to take part in an abortion, but in terms of care for a woman who had an abortion and had complications, that would be a difficult call. My aunt is an RN and works at a Catholic hospital, so they do not do abortions. But I wonder if the ER and such would turn away a woman for care who had an abortion. I would imagine they wouldn’t. Just as I’m sure they would not turn away a person who contracted an STD due to fornication, sleeping around, etc.

Hi ubcgirl,

It makes perfect sense to me. Everyone sins. Christ called on us to love others as we love ourselves and to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. If you were a patient, I’m sure you’d want to be cared for by a nurse, regardless of what sins you might have committed.

It’s not for us to decide who is “worthy” of care. “What you do for the least of them you do for Me.”


Speak with a priest. My guess, and it’s only a guess, is that it’s after-care. You are not assisting in the abortion procedure, counseling for an abortion or promoting it – you are caring for a patient who has already undergone a procedure that you had no part in. If you were doing a surgical rotation, and had to attend abortions, then the hospital should have a religious exemption, but I don’t see that as applying to aftercare.

However, we are not priests here – most of us. So, check with your pastor/priest/confessor.

Don’t choose to work at a place where they provide abortions. It’s that simple.

If you would find it difficult say, working on an orphopedic ward and someone had a past history of it and you found that difficult, I think you’re in the wrong profession. You would be guilty of discrimination and lose your job.

I work as an auxillary nurse and I have looked after people who have been in handcuffs, seen it all.

Also, most importantly - you’re gonna find it hard to only look after patients who have never sinned.

I agree with the other posters. You are right to treat your patients no matter their past sins (you just cannot help them commit more, i.e. assist in a sterilization/abortion).

Get that “theurapeutic abortion” euphemism out of your vocabulary before you start to think as you speak! Murder cannot be theurapeutic.

I hope for all the best for you. We need nurses such as yourself with strong moral values and faith. Thank you!

Thanks for the replies!

I had a life quite full of sin (and as a human, will probably continue to sin in some way or other, though not if I can prevent it), so I have no problem caring for patients who have sinned, since that would be everyone. I read somewhere about Catholic nurses who would not care for patients who have had abortions (as in, they are in the hospital due to complications from the abortion), and I was wondering if that was what was expected of me also. On that note, as far as I know, it is not medically relevant in any way for a patient to list that they’ve had an abortion in their history upon admission - so I am guessing I’ve probably cared for a few patients who have had abortions, but are in the hospital months or years later for other reasons that are not related in any way.

I see it as my duty - as I went into this profession as I felt it was God’s calling - to care for ALL patients, regardless of what they have done. I would never work in surgery (considered a specialty and requires further training), nor do I want to work on a surgical floor. However, I do have this one surgical rotation left in my degree, which I am required to do to graduate, and I don’t have much say which floor I go to. So thankfully I would never be in a position to have to assist with any procedure that was against my beliefs.

I will certainly ask my priest for further advice on this matter.

And as for the term therapeutic abortion - I was using it in the medical sense, in which a mother sometimes will have an abortion to save her own life. I certainly do not condone it, but had only meant it in the terms the hospital uses.

Yes, it is expected of you. Try defending refusing to help someone to the toilet because they did something you disagreed with in court. It won’t fly. It would be un-Christian to refuse care to someone who had just had an abortion. Where is compassion and forgiveness in that?

Well said. Your job is to be a care provider. You aren’t performing the abortions.

I’m an RN. This is how I look at it, and what I did as a student.

I will care for a woman who’s had an abortion in her history, the same way I’ll care for a paedophile or a murderer. Basically, say she’s broken her ankle and that’s why I’m caring for her. There is also the issue of why she had the abortion? Was it forced? Was she in a dark space in her life? I cared for a woman who had had about 8 abortions, ended up with cancer. She had already sought forgiveness for teh abortions, but now viewed her cancer as punishment for such [doctors never told her it was growing on a uterine scar from an abortion!] Not to mention, I’ve seen cases where teh doctor wrote “abortion” because abortion is the correct medical term for miscarriage. The woman had miscarried - not sought to kill her child.

So you just really don’t know. I’m not there to pick apart their histories or their reasons. I’m just there to care for them in the now.

However, I will not do any pre-op or post op care of a woman who has aborted. I view that as being to close to the event to deny culpilbility.

Your responsibility is to be honest with your lecturers and employers. You do not have to give a long winded explanation, just say “I feel uncomfortable caring for pt’s who are here for abortions as it classes with my conscience and as such I don’t think I could provide adequate care”. You don’t need to say you’re catholic, don’t need to get drawn into a philosophical debate. They will hopefully not treat you poorly because it.

When it comes to your career, study the job descriptions and make sure there’s no way you could likely come into caring for pre/post op abortion patients.

Also, know your State/Country’s conscience clause acts. If they give you greif. Mention the Law. If they persist, you could go down the path of threatening legal action.

Granted, most conscience clauses do not allow you to get out of caring for a women in an emergency situation. Say she has an abortion elsewhere and she comes in bleeding all over the place. She may still be pregnant at this stage. But you can’t get out of that.

I will care for women in that situation [but its never happened to me in my career yet] but I’d simply view it as lookign after someone who’s been injured committing a crime. I’ve done that plenty of times.

I’m an RN. I agree with Vera dicere, we care for the patients we are assigned, but we refuse to participate in acts of murder or euthanasia.
You need to be careful while you are in nursing school. I was nearly kicked out of my school (this was in '85) for wondering aloud to another student whether a woman had had sufficient counseling on the gravity of her decision to abort. The student reported me to our supervisor, and I got a lecture and a warning. They didn’t want to hear a negative word about it.
There is also a danger of compartmentalization. I found that I could be a good Catholic when off work, but when I put on my nurse hat at work, my thinking was more along the lines of what I had learned at nursing school. Which can get you into moral difficulty. So if it comes to a matter of life and death, stop for a moment and pray for guidance. That could have saved me heartache.

Will you be able to make some choices about where you work after you’re done with school? Maybe you could work in a Catholic hospital, or you could work on a type of unit like pediatrics or neurology or ICU…basically just not obstetrics/gynecology or ER, and you would probably never come across a situation like this. Until then, as long as you are avoiding evil to the best of your ability (you would need to refuse participating in an immoral procedure, working for Planned Parenthood, etc), I think you can care for particular patients. Christ cared for sinners. The Catholic church cares for women who have had abortions. In fact, I could imagine that right after the procedure may be one of the most painful times for those women, and a time when they most need someone to care for them.

I’m a hospice volunteer and I meet all people the same no mater what they believe or how they have lived their lives - see Jesus in their faces and you won’t think twice about it - leave judgement right out of it.

I always try to remember Matthews Gospel 25:35-36 and 25:37-40 but not that I think I am righteous but I am nothing more than a lowly sinner.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

If it’s their post-abortion follow-up, I wouldn’t do it-- you’d probably have to counsel them on contraception in any case.

But if they come to you with a complication like bleeding, then by all means treat them.

We need pro-lifers in the medical profession!

Medical people in general should be very non-judgemental Even more than the average person. People need to feel confidence that they’re going to be cared for in compassionate manner, whatever their history.

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