When Saying No Is Not Acceptable
One of the toughest situations you can face is being asked to notarize a document in support of something that goes against your beliefs. In the healthcare profession, these circumstances can include highly controversial health practices, such as abortion, assisted suicide and the use of medical marijuana that often require notarized forms.
While some Notaries may want to refuse requests they find objectionable, remember that you are acting as a public official when performing a notarization. Many states specifically define a Notary’s role as acting as an impartial, third-party witness, and some prohibit Notaries from refusing lawful requests.
Article I-A-3 of The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility states that a Notary should not refuse to perform a lawful and proper notarial act “because of disagreement with the statements or purpose of a lawful document.”
It’s important to avoid any practices that suggest bias or compromise your impartiality. While some might see refusing to notarize based on your personal principles as an appropriate gesture, it directly violates the principle of serving all members of the public equally.
Remember, your seal doesn’t equal personal endorsement or suggest that you agree with the content of a document. Your role is simply to verify the identity of a person signing a document.
As long as the document is lawful and there are no other factors — such as lack of satisfactory evidence of identification for the signer — you should perform the notarization. Like judges, impartiality is an integral part of the role of Notaries in the healthcare industry and any other profession.