ONA Media Statement on Sexual and Reproductive Health, Overturn of Roe v Wade

The following statement is attributable to ONA President Robert Weitzel:

“The Ohio Nurses Association is alarmed over the Supreme Court’s monumental decision to overturn Roe v Wade and its potential negative consequences on access to sexual and reproductive health. The decision upends decades of long-settled precedent, marking the first time the Supreme Court has stripped away rights from Americans.

It is imperative Ohio nurses be knowledgeable about principles of reproductive justice, which is defined as “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities,” and provide sexual and reproductive health (SRH) in a non-judgmental atmosphere based on mutual respect.

Furthermore, the ONA stands with the American Nurses Association’s position statement on Sexual and Reproductive Health, which includes the following affirmations:

  • Everyone has the right to privacy and the right to make decisions about SRH based on full information and without coercion.
  • Nurses are obligated to share with their patients in an unbiased manner all relevant information about SRH choices that are available and to support that patient regardless of the decisions that patient makes.
  • Abortion is a reproductive health alternative that nurses and other providers can discuss when counseling patients.
  • SRH care should be widely available, accessible, and affordable for all.
  • Nurses have the right to refuse to participate in SRH care based on ethical grounds, as long as patient safety is assured, and alternative sources of care have been arranged.

The Code of Ethics for Nurses acknowledges that patients under the care of a nurse have the moral and legal right to self-determination, and nurses have a duty to respect the decisions of their patients, including those decisions that are related to sexual and reproductive health. Ohio legislators must support programs that:

  • Provide access to the full range of SRH care consistent with patient choice and other principles such as privacy and informed consent.
  • Promote care delivery models that include care coordination for the health of the whole person, including the need for SRH and supportive services.
  • Allow and support SRH care delivery by nurses practicing to full extent of their education, training, and licensing. Policies must not interfere with an SRH provider’s ethical obligations, including the obligation to provide complete and accurate information about SRH and SRH care options.
  • Be administered with provisions that guard against patient coercion in treatment decisions, and ensure that the rights of minors choose and access SRH care are protected consisted with their rights to choose and access non-SRH care.

Though the right to seek and receive reproductive health care in the United States has been historically contested, and will likely continue to be, it will always be the duty of the registered nurse to abide by the Code of Ethics and advocate for patient rights at the workplace, state and federal levels, and support access to sexual and reproductive healthcare including access to routine screenings, follow up and contraception.”