Ohio Right to Life responds to Ohio Nurses Association Vote to Support Physician Assisted Suicide

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.”

To read our full letter to Ohio legislators, click here.