Saturday, November 28, 2009

Use of Your Conscience or Battery?

From Kmareka comes this Albuquerque case of a nurse/AP who "accidentally" removed a woman's IUD because she found the form of birth control to be against her own conscience:

I’ve been watching this court case move slowly through the system. A nurse is being sued because she pulled out a patient’s intrauterine device without permission, and then lectured her. An IUD prevents fertilization and alters the uterine lining to make it less receptive to sperm and implantation. This is what some define as abortion. In fact, some believe that the birth control pill is abortion, and there are legal strategies in progress to separate contraception from other health care and remove it from insurance coverage.


She could have told her employer at hire that she had a list of birth control methods she personally found unacceptable, and would not cooperate in providing care that violated her standards. She could have refused to see the patient with the IUD, and claimed conscience and let another nurse or doctor see her. She’ll have a chance now to say in court whether she was acting on principle, or was just clumsy. Here’s some testimony…

A clinic nurse first removed her intrauterine birth-control device without permission, the patient claims in a federal action, then told her that "having the IUD come out was a good thing," because "I personally do not like IUDs. I feel they are a type of abortion. I don't know how you feel about abortion, but I am against them."
The patient sued Presbyterian Medical Services Rio Rancho Family Health Center and nurse practitioner Sylvia Olona in Federal Court.
The plaintiff says she went to Rio Rancho to have the strings on her IUD shortened.
The complaint states: "As soon as Defendant Olona began speaking to (the plaintiff), she questioned her about her choice of contraception.
"As Defendant Olona began the procedure, (the plaintiff) felt Olona pull on the strings of the IUD. (The plaintiff) felt a distinct pulling on the strings followed by a sharp pain in her uterus similar to a very strong menstrual cramp.
"As that happened, Defendant Olona stated, 'Uh oh, I accidentally pulled out your IUD. I gently tugged and out it came.' She then explained, 'I cut the string than went back and gently pulled and out it came. It must have not been in properly.'
"Olona then stated, 'having the IUD come out was a good thing.' She asked (the plaintiff) if she wanted to hear her 'take' on the situation. Without receiving a response, Defendant Olona stated, 'I personally do not like IUDs. I feel they are a type of abortion. I don't know how you feel about abortion, but I am against them. What the IUD does is take the fertilized egg and pushes it out of the uterus.'
"Defendant Olona stated, 'Everyone in the office always laughs and tells me I pull these out on purpose because I am against them, but it's not true, they accidentally come out when I tug.'
"At this point, Defendant Olona advised that (the plaintiff) needed to take a pregnancy test. (The plaintiff) did, and the test was negative.
"Defendant Olona told (the plaintiff) that is was better that she did not have the IUD because she could now use a "non-abortion" form of contraception. Defendant Olona suggested the deprovera (depo) [sic] shot or the pill, and made clear that she would not insert a new IUD."
The plaintiff demands damages for battery, constitutional violations and negligence. She is represented by Ryan Villa with the Law Office of Robert Cooper.

Kmareka concludes:

The thing about conscience is that good people can disagree in important matters. I do think that medical people have a right and necessity to follow their conscience, but they have an obligation to be truthful to their patients. They do not have a right to impose their beliefs on people who are trusting them to provide care. If they need to opt out, they should make sure the patient has an alternative. Because she has a conscience too. And it’s her life and body on the line. Doctors and nurses have no right to sabotage medical procedures from some notion that they know better than the patient.

UPDATE: Apparently the case was settled out of court. Darn. I was wondering what Nurse Olona, (or Physician’s Assistant Olona in some news accounts) would have said with her hand on the Bible.

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