is the situation: I am in graduate school to become
a nurse-midwife. I plan to be an NFP-only
practitioner upon graduation. However, I recently
explained my position regarding artificial
contraception to the director of my midwifery
program, and she is insistent that while she will
try to place me in NFP-friendly or NFP-only clinical
sites, I must still gain the clinical skills of
inserting IUDs, counseling for contraceptives, etc.
She says that I cannot graduate from this program
without doing so, as these skills are within the
midwifery scope of practice and thus required for
sitting for the boards.
I can't imagine that they can force me to do these
things (or kick me out of the program), but I need
some information to go back to her with so that I
can maintain my position AND graduate from the
program. I would really appreciate any input that
you might have on how to appropriately and
respectfully fight this issue. In particular, I'd
love to find some legal information regarding my
rights as a student in the medical field.
Thank you, Perplexed.
Dear Perplexed: This amounts to being forced against one's
conscience, as there is no way to licitly agree to
participate in providing contraceptive technology or IUD
insertion, for contraceptive or sterilizing purposes. That
would always involve formal or, at minimum, proximate
material cooperation and therefore be unacceptable morally
for the Catholic (or anyone).
Further I don't think this imposition is legal either. It
needs to be made clear that this is a non-negotiable issue
and that you have a 2-fold responsibility to 1) respect your
own religious and conscience-based preferences and beliefs;
but just as important, 2) your honest convictions that these
types of interventions represent doing harm to patients and
therefore are never acceptable from that perspective as
You must explain this calmly but assertively, using the
analogy of poisoning of patients, something forbidden not
only by our private religious convictions but also by an
honest professional-moral sense as well. And you need to
make it clear that you intend to vindicate your rights as
well. In the end you must unfortunately draw a line
somewhere; hopefully it can be amicable and the preceptor
can listen to reason. I would love to talk with you about
this, and hope you do not end up needing an attorney, but we
know some good ones if it comes to that.
You deserve better than this, and you deserve to be
respected. There is nothing unreasonable about this -- it's
as if the entire profession condoned cigarette chain
smoking. You would still be right to discourage that even if
you were the only one doing so. Indeed your counsel would in
that instance be all the more needed! Call me because I can
provide evidence-based data on contraception and
sterilization that can help.
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