Ohio Nurses Association Slammed for Supporting Assisted Suicide

State   Stephanie Krider   Nov 22, 2019   |   2:00PM    Columbus, Ohio

Today, Ohio Right to Life sent a letter to pro-life members of the Ohio Legislature urging them to stay strong in their protection of life-affirming end-of-life provisions in the wake of the Ohio Nurses Association’s recent vote to support physician assisted suicide. This platform, often referred to as “Medical Aid in Dying,” was adopted by the ONA on November 6th.

“The Ohio Nurses Association has sadly taken a step backwards from advancing evidence-based, ethical care for patients and families,” said Dr. Ashley Fernandes, a physician and bioethicist, Associate Director of the Center for Bioethics at The Ohio State University, and Ohio Right to Life board member. “So-called ‘Medical Aid in Dying’ purports to help the vulnerable, dying patient not through palliative care or social support—but rather by assisting in killing him or her. Compassion literally means to ‘suffer with’ another—it is a gift of being present to another, not abandoning them to the false perception that they are a burden.”

The President of the Ohio Nurses Association, Deborah Arms, quoted in the Cincinnati Enquirer, called the recommendations “an extension of what nurses are ethically obligated to do, which is to protect and advocate for the rights, needs and wants of their patients.”

Dr. Fernandes, however, disagrees.  “The right to help patients kill themselves has historically never been seen as an extension of what nurses are ‘obligated to do.’ This is simply false,” said Fernandes. “Looking at the empirical evidence in states and countries where physician-assisted suicide is legal and abuses have taken place, nurses across Ohio should be very concerned that a so-called ‘right to die’ for the patients they tirelessly protect will be seen as a ‘duty to die.’ We know the majority of nurses do not agree with assisted suicide and urge nurses in and out of ONA to call their office and protest this serious error before they are forced to do the unthinkable.”

Unlike the Ohio Nurses Association, the American Medical Association recently affirmed its stance against physician assisted suicide by voting down a proposed amendment to their code of medical ethics, stating in part, “Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.”  

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November 21, 2019

Dear Pro-Life Legislators,

We are writing today to alert you to some alarming news. Recently, on November 6th, the Ohio Nurses Association (ONA) voted to support physician assisted suicide, often misnamed as “Medical Aid in Dying”.

Ohio Right to Life strongly condemns this action by the ONA and encourages the Ohio legislature to remain strong in their convictions to protect the vulnerable at all stages of life.

Legislation such as Senate Bill 249, introduced in the 132nd General Assembly, would allow physicians to prescribe fatal drugs to their patients for the purpose of ending their life. This kind of legislation preys upon the fears of the sick and the elderly, and affirms the misguided idea that certain lives are not worth living.

The position adopted by the ONA is not representative of Ohioans nor of the broader medical community in the United States. The American Medical Association recently affirmed its stance against physician assisted suicide by voting down a proposed amendment to their code of medical ethics. Their statement reads, in part, “Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.”

Physician assisted suicide violates the principle that each human being has intrinsic dignity and value, regardless of age, physical or mental condition, or state of dependency. It seeks to improve the “quality of life,” not by acts of care and assistance, but by extinguishing the very same lives of those who fall below some arbitrary standard of “quality.”

Certainly, legislators are aware of Ohio Right to Life’s opposition to abortion, as it ends an innocent human life and its acceptance devalues human life everywhere. Assisted suicide likewise devalues the humanity of those who are sick, suffering or disabled, and we stand equally as strongly opposed to any effort to allow legal assisted suicide in our state.

On behalf of our chapters and membership, we encourage you to stand strong in your convictions for life. Do not be deceived by the language of “compassion” in dying. Killing is never a proper expression of compassion.

Sincerely,

Mike Gonidakis                                           Jessica Warner

President                                                   Director of Legislative Affairs