Supervisor demands nurse assist with abortion
Nurse quits at Shaughnessy Hospital
Vancouver, B.C. Canada (1987)
When Gina Fraser applied to work in the operating room at Shaughnessy
Hospital in Vancouver in 1983, she made it clear that she was unwilling to
assist with abortions. The supervisor told her that other nurses were
willling to do so, and she would be accommodated. For the next four
years she worked in the operating room under the terms of this unwritten
However, in late 1987 her supervisor died and was replaced by a new
supervisor, who told her that she had to do "her share of abortions" or move
onto the wards. The demand was particularly distressing because it
came at a time when a family member was to have major surgery. Ms.
Fraser was unwilling to participate in abortion but, given her family
situation, also unwilling to be subject to the added stress that would be
involved with contesting the supervisor's demands. She quit nursing
altogether and retrained for work in another field.
At about the same time, two operating room nurses who refused to
participate in abortion continued to work at Shaughnessy, apparently because
they had been hired before the hospital began to do abortions and perhaps
had some kind of protection under their terms of employment.