Wow, I didn't expect to get so many responses -- thanks all! It is great to hear others' views on the issue. I am still on the fence. On the one hand it's not as though giving the ointment is equivalent to circumcision or feeding a bottle of formula or something like that that has permanent consequences. But on the other hand, I don't like my right to decline being questioned, and I can see it becoming a slippery slope.
We are going to go ahead and get the Vitamin K and agree to the baby's blood sugar being tested after birth (bc I have GD), neither of which I am super thrilled about, but we are declining the bath, Hep B shot, and possibly the metabolic screen depending on whether my ped will insist on doing it a second time a few days later. That combined with all the birth stuff I'm declining will give me plenty of practice in saying "no thank you" and signing waivers. I was just thinking it might be better to save my assertive energy for the more important stuff and let a few smaller things go. I'm going to mention it to my OB tomorrow and see whether declining is truly as rare as that nurse said ... my OB didn't bat an eye at anything on my birth plan, including declining all 3rd stage active-management stuff, and said they see women who have the same preferences I expressed "all the time" and are used to accommodating them. I can't imagine that, it now being 2011, none of those women has ever declined the eye ointment.
So we'll see. If I felt strongly about it, I would definitely insist on declining. Strangely(?), I feel more strongly about declining the bath than the eye ointment ... though if we decide to go along, I will absolutely insist on delaying it until at least an hour after the birth. And wipe off the area around the eyes as soon as they leave us alone. :)