Catholic Nurses


I didn’t know what forum would be best for this topic but I come to this particular one often and thought to ask here.
Are there any catholic nurses on these boards? Do you work in offices where the docter writes prescriptions for birth control? What do you do when you are faced with things that go against church teaching?


Catholic nurse here. I have worked in OB for several years. I refuse to work in facilities that perform abortions. The birth control issue/permanent sterilization issue is tricky. I made it known right away to my co-workers about my beliefs and I have not had to participate in ABC patient teaching or any surgical cases for tubial ligation.


I’m a Catholic nurse, too. I work in the ER. I’ve had occasions where after doing a rape exam we offer the “morning after pill” and I’ve had one woman come in and specifically ask for the “morning after pill” because her husband’s condom broke. I have to say that at the time of all of those cases I was not a practising Catholic - I only recently returned to the Church after being away for 25 years. Now that I’m back I have been thinking about those situations, and glad I haven’t had to confront them yet. I don’t really know what I’m going to do when the situation arises again. I suppose I could have one of the other nurses give those prescriptions out in those cases. I went thru nurses’ training about 25 years ago, and it was drummed into our heads that we were not to be judgemental - if someone’s beliefs differ from mine, it’s not my place to confront them on it (whether it’s an emergency or not, since I work in the ER. I can’t bring myself to tell a woman who has been raped that she’s completely wrong to want to take the “morning after pill.” ) The most I can do is try to educate her as to what the pills do - but I cannot refuse treatment because someone’s beliefs are different from mine. It’s not illegal to take the pill. I can’t withhold a prescription the doctor has written because I don’t agree with it. I can refuse to medicate someone, and let another nurse do it. I can ask another nurse to give the Rx and discharge the patient. I have yet to talk with my manager about it because I haven’t sorted it out for myself yet. My nursing manager would have every right to fire me if I said I just couldn’t do that sort of thing. And I honestly don’t know what the Catholic hospital in town does - the doctors there may well give out those prescriptions as well. I have heard that this does happen in Catholic hospitals… This is difficult for me. So I can’t give you any great answer! But it’s certainly something I’d like to discuss.



Hi Blessed,
I’m glad you started this thread. I’ve been an ICU nurse for 12 years and haven’t been a great Catholic nurse that whole time. When I did start to be serious about my faith was about 5 years ago and I was assigned a patient who came in after having a stroke. In report I heard he had been made a DNR by the family and it was a matter of time till he passed. When I assessed him, he could follow commands with his unaffected side and was able to communicate that he was not in any pain. His respirtory rate was 6 bpm so I decreased his morphine and intended to call his attending MD. Before I could do that his son came in and wanted to know why I had decreased his drip. I started to explain my reasons and the effect of morphine on resp. rate when he stopped me and said that he was a pharmacist. I almost couldn’t speak for a second knowing that his intent was to euthanise his father. I told him that I would not go back up on his morphine and he could have another RN assigned to take care of his father. My assignment was changed and I reported all this to the next nurse who totally agreed with me. His attending was pretty wishy washy on the whole thing–no help there.

I still feel like I should have done something more. I did talk it over with a very pro-life doctor friend of mine who thought I did the right thing but it still bothers me.

By the way, there is a Catholic Nurses Assoc. on the web but I don’t think they update their website often. I wish we had a good place to go to discuss these professional issues. Do you know of any other organization for nurses with this focus?


My nursing manager would have every right to fire me if I said I just couldn’t do that sort of thing.

Are you sure this is true? You should have the option to request another nurse be involved if a situation requires actions you know are immoral.
It seems like firing you would be discrimination based on religion, which is illegal.
As for the morning pill for rape victims, this is still being debated. The Church teaches that the victim is not bound to the same moral code of procreation and unification that a married couple is and refers to methods to prevent “further aggression” using preventing ovulation as an example. The debate is whether a medication that prevents ovulation is justified even if there is a risk of abortion.
Spermicide is a morally licit option in this case.


I’m a Catholic nurse, but I’ve been a SAHM now for as long as I worked as a nurse (just over a year :)). And I am thankful that I was never put in the position where I would be pressured to give out birth control.

Mary’s Kid, have you spoken about this in the confessional? I had a similar experience, although the family was not pushing for euthanasia and the patient was in fact dying. I had an elderly patient who was unconscious, dying of chicken pox. He had been in the ICU, but the general consensus was that he was dying, and they needed the bed for another critically ill patient. So somehow he ended up on our orthopedic floor which did not see a whole lot of death. He had morphine prescribed, and he had been getting it every 4 hours in the ICU. When he got to our floor, the nurses were petrified that he would die on their shift, and they did not give him any morphine at all. My nurse manager scared me by telling me that he would probably die when we rolled him side to side to bathe him :whacky: We eventually did bathe him in the early afternoon (I worked 12 hr day shifts), and he grimmaced and let out a few soft moans. My coworkers and I felt that this man was in pain and deserved to receive the prescribed medicine that he had been getting the day before. I got all of my other patients “squared away” because I had a feeling he might die when I gave him the morphine. And my feeling was right. He died within 4-5 minutes of the injection, and he was the only person to ever die in my presence. I felt very confused, but thought that I had done the right thing. When I brought this up in confession, my priest told me that I did nothing wrong. I was very glad to be able to be there, praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet for this man as he died.


I’m a Catholic nurse anesthetist and can say that I run into situations where mom’s have been given the option of electively terminating a pregnancy at around 22 weeks for anomalies (fatal and non fatal) of the baby. The hi-risk ob’s induce labor and the baby delivers and dies. We’re expected to just swoop in and place a labor epidural without giving it a second thought for the purpose of making this situation more tolerable for the woman. The rationale of otherwise generally against abortion types is that the child will just be a carrot for the next 30 years, a horrible financial burden on the family and a potentially terminal strain on the marriage. Uncharitable comments aside, all of this is for the most part true. I wouldn’t trade places with these families for all the tea in China. So I really look like a heartless S.O.B. when I say I can’t participate in it. People just don’t understand why and the principle of the “means justifies the ends” carries the day.


I hurt my back and had to look for work outside a hospital. I had a difficult time finding another job because I won’t refer for abortions. I had some job interviews cancelled on that account.
Now I work in home health, caring for young children with medical problems, a Downs infant and a young deaf child in ESRD. It’s much more satisfying working with these families, who care deeply for their children despite their problems. It doesn’t pay much because of society’s attitude, and I lost my health benefits when the child was hospitalized – a lousy job, but I feel pretty good about it for now.


If you feel you’re being discriminated against for your convictions on abortion and can prove it, you might be able to bring a law suit against those responsible. I know Jay Sekulo’s bunch, the ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice) and I think an outfit called the St. Thomas Moore Center takes these cases pro bono if the case is strong enough. You might look into it if you feel strongly enough about it. Might help other people too.


Im a second year Catholic nursing student and I have been faced with some tough situations so far. My instruction is pretty anti-Christian and there have been a few times in class and in front of patients that he has really pushed abortions or the morning after pill. I have offered some alternatives but its really nice to know that there are people who are experiencing the same thing! Its nice to know that there are other nurses in the hospitals who wont back down from their beliefs!


I am a Catholic Nurse who worked for the Public Health Department for a program called Healthy Start…we were supposed to “educate” our clients who were usually pregnant and unmarried, about future birth control methods. I tried to talk about Natural Family Planning . I must admit I did mention other birth control methods , because I was supposed to . During my period of working there, I was able to start to be firm in my convictions and just talked about the NFP method, as well as abstinence. Once my supervisor told me that I would have to make a home visit to a client who had no transportation into the clinic and I would have to administer her Depo shot. One of the nurses who worked with me, and with whom I had heated discussions about abortion being murder, took the medication off my desk and said that she would make the home visit for me. She was very pro-abortion, but at least I think she understood my convictions and my lack of courage to stand up to my supervisor. I quit that job soon after, and now work as the Director of a Maternity Home. it’s a lot easier now to teach what is right and moral. Not any credit to me. But I think that is how I would handle any dilemma, just put myself in a more favorable environment. I know that’s not always easy to do…any there certainly isn’t any money in working for the Church. But I know that I am in good standing with the church’s teachings and I sleep well at night. Blessings. :cool:

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