US Nurses Against Euthanasia

Despite campaigns in several states for the legalisation of assisted suicide and euthanasia and the existence of legal assisted suicide in Oregon and Washington state, the American Nurses Association (ANA) still strongly opposes both end-of-life options.

It is currently requesting public comment on a position paper updating its 1994 stand.

The draft takes a realistic view of increasing pressure on nurses to acquiesce to patients’ requests for help in dying. They may have to cope with “their own sense of suffering, discomfort, confusion, and inadequacy”. However, it insists that “The reality that all forms of human suffering and pain cannot necessarily be removed except through death is not adequate justification for professional sanctioning of assisted suicide”.

Both the American Medical Association and the ANA believe that participation in assisted suicide is “incompatible with professional role integrity and violates the social contract the professions have with society”. Both organisations are committed to honouring what they term “the sanctity of life”.

What about the patient’s right to self-determination? The draft statement acknowledges this. But it says that “In order to preserve the moral mandates of the profession and the integrity of the individual nurse, nurses are not obligated to comply with all patient and family requests”.

Michael Cook


Michael Cook likes bad puns, bushwalking and black coffee. He did a BA at Harvard University in the US where it was good for networking, but moved to Sydney where it wasn’t. He also did a PhD on an obscure corner of Australian literature. He has worked as a book editor and magazine editor and has published articles in magazines and newspapers in the US, the UK and Australia.

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  • CFS

    Isn’t it a question of perceived ‘rights’? According to your beliefs it is a morally good, or at least a morally neutral, act for a person to end his life when he wishes. According to my beliefs it is a moral evil to do so. If you want me to accept that you have the ‘right’ to die, don’t you have to accept that I have the ‘right’ not to be compelled to be complicit in that. The nurses are RIGHT!