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NAPN: A Voice for Pro-Life Nurses

by Lynn Smith RN, National Association of Pro-Life Nurses Member,
and Marianne Linane RN, MS, MA, National Association of Pro-Life Nurses Executive DirectorNAPN1

In 1995, during the U.S. Senate debate on the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D. California) read into the record a letter from Geri Marrullo, then-executive director of the American Nurses Association, in opposition to the proposed ban on Partial-Birth Abortion.

The ANA claimed to be "the only full-time professional organization representing the nation's 2.2 million registered nurses."

While investigating the ANA's exclusive claim to represent the nation's RNs to the U.S. Senate, it was discovered that though there were 2.2 million RNs at the time, and the ANA is exclusively RNs, only 190,000 nurses were actually members; only 9% of U.S. nurses.

In 2011, there were 3.1 million nurses, and only 180,000 nurses were members, or about 6%.

RN Magazine, the mainstream nursing journal, did a survey in 1999, showing that nearly 2/3 of nurses surveyed thought that partial-birth abortion should be prohibited by law. [Marissa Ventura RN, Aug. 16, 2002, "Ethics on the Job: Where Nurses Stand on Abortion."]

In response to the ANA's position against a ban, a unique and separate professional nurses organization, the National Association of Pro-Life Nurses stepped forward and, in 2000, submitted a Friend of the Court brief in Stenberg v. Carhart, supporting a ban on partial birth abortion. In 2003, NAPN nurses gathered nurses' signatures on a national petition, which was submitted to the U.S. Congress, also to ban the procedure.

All nurses can appreciate the gains that the ANA has accomplished in making nursing more professional and patient care more effective. This is what we want and expect from a full-time professional association.

If the ANA was only neutral on bioethical issues, we would have cause for concern, but the clearly aggressive anti-life political lobbying by the ANA, is a disservice to nurses of conscience, and a misrepresentation to the public, to our courts, to our elected officials, and even to other nurses.

NAPN

The National Association of Pro-Life Nurses offers nurses of conscience a choice for affiliation with a professional organization that is a voice affirming the gift of life.

Chartered since 1978, The National Association of Pro-Life Nurses is a not-for-profit organization uniting nurses who are "dedicated to promoting respect for every human life from conception to natural death, and to affirming that the destruction of that life, for whatever reason and by whatever means, does not constitute good nursing practice."

It's a community of like-minded nurses who can offer advice and encouragement on problems that nurses encounter.

As a professional organization, NAPN works to:

  • establish and protect the ethical values of the nursing profession.
  • secure protection of the rights of nurses and paramedical personnel, who refuse to participate in procedures that are counter to the beliefs held in the NAPN mission statement.
  • maintain a legal defense fund for use in representing nurses in such disputes.
  • participate in the legislative process to promote life-affirming legislation.

The NAPN legal defense fund also provides the resources needed to submit Friend of the Court briefs in cases such as those heard by the United States Supreme Court. Several of these briefs have been filed, some which are on the opposite side of the argument from the American Nurses Association's briefs, such as Stenberg v. Carhart and the more recent decision, Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius.

Education

NAPN provides education for those facing difficult choices involving life-taking decisions and promotion of positive alternative choices.

Members are kept informed on current issues through Pulse Line, the quarterly newsletter, and links to relevant medical journal articles at the website: NursesForLife.org.

A $1,000 scholarship is awarded annually to a nursing student whose application best meets the criteria established. It is decided by the scholarship committee.

Continuing education is provided at its general meetings, in conjunction with the annual National Right to Life Committee Convention and speakers are provided for local nursing events on life topics.

NAPN has a strong position statement supporting informed consent for human research subjects.

Two outstanding pro-life nurses who have been members are Brenda Pratt Shafer, the nurse who exposed the practices at Martin Haskell's abortion clinic, because she was an eyewitness to partial-birth abortions, and Jill Stanek, who exposed the practice of abandoning babies surviving late-term abortions, left to die, alone and uncomforted, in the dirty utility room of the hospital where she worked.

Both Brenda and Jill have testified before the U.S. Congress and both were instrumental in having those practices outlawed, to the extent that Congress could act.

For more information visit NursesForLife.org Consider becoming a member of the National Association of Pro-Life Nurses, and joining your voice with the professional organization that can best represent your life affirming values to other nurses, to the public, to our courts and to our elected representatives.