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Protection of Conscience Project

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Service, not Servitude

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April-June, 2009

June

30 June, 2009
Embryonic stem cells may replace lab animals

General Electric Corporation has announced that it will work with Geron Corporation to use human embryonic stem cells to produce heart and liver cells that will be sold for use in early drug toxicity trials. Konstantin Fiedler of General Electric said that the development of standardized human cells, analogous to standardized lab rats, might see animal trials replaced by tests on human cells derived from embryonic stem cells.[Reuters] The plan is similar to the 1999 suggestion of People for Ethical Treatment of Animals that lab animals be replaced by human embryos [World Net Daily]

29 June, 2009
New protection of conscience website launched

An American organization, the Family Research Council, has announced the creation of a new website, Clear Conscience Health Care. The site will advocate for freedom of conscience for health care workers, but will also argue against funding abortion through taxes.

25 June, 2009
Louisiana passes protection of conscience bill

The Louisiana Healthcare Workers Conscience Act has passed the Senate and House and is to become law in the state when signed by the Governor. The law is procedure specific, relating only to abortion, dispensation of abortifacient drugs, human embryonic stem cell research, human embryo cloning, euthanasia, or physician-assisted suicide; contraception is not included. It requires a health care worker to notify an employer of conscientious objections, and the onus is placed on the employer to find someone willing to provide the requested service. The worker is also obliged to notify the patient of objections before providing any service or consultation.

Protection of conscience regulation rejected by Nebraska board

The Nebraska state Board of Mental Health Practice has refused to adopt a protection of conscience policy to protect counsellors who refuse, for reasons of conscience, to provide counselling that would support homosexual relationships. [AP]

23 June, 2009
Mexican state challenges mandatory abortion regulation

The Mexican state of Jalisco has begun litigation in Mexico's Supreme Court to prevent public hospitals in the state from being forced to provide abortions under Official Mexican Norm (NOM) 046-SSA2-200519. The regulation demands that abortions be provided to a rape complainant within 72 hours of a request. The regulation has elicited widespread resistance among objecting health care workers and institutions. [LifeSite News]

22 June, 2009
Assisted suicide/euthanasia, abortion and freedom of conscience

An op-ed column in The Guardian illustrates the logical parallels between arguments for assisted suicide/euthanasia and abortion advocacy. Sarah Wootton, Executive Director of the British assisted suicide advocacy group Dignity in Dying, argues that suicide is a "legal choice" and frames the organization's efforts as a campaign for choice. The organization's website emphasizes three principles: "choice, access and control." These principles (choice, access, autonomy) are also put forward as reasons to restrict or suppress freedom of conscience for health care workers. Note that Wootton was a founding trustee of Abortion Rights, one of the groups that just released a report critical of conscientious objection to abortion [Three organisations complain about freedom of conscience]. Legalization of assisted suicide or euthanasia is, like legalization of abortion, leading to demands that health care workers facilitate the procedures. [Belgium: Mandatory Referral for Euthanasia; Case of the Disappearing Plaintiffs]

19 June, 2009
Three organisations complain about freedom of conscience

Marie Stopes International, Abortion Rights (U.K.) and Ipas have issued a Report from a conference held in the United Kingdom in 2007. The report complains

  • about "negative attitudes" toward abortion, manifested in conscientious objection by health care workers;
  • that mandatory referral is not always required by law;
  • allowing conscientious objection makes physicians "gatekeepers, not facilitators."
17 June, 2009
Nebraska counsellors seek protection of conscience law

As a result of concerns that psychologists and other professionals may be forced to provide counselling to support homosexual relationships, or to refer for such counselling, the Nebraska Board of Mental Health Practice is being asked to adopt a protection of conscience policy. A spokesman for the Nebraska Catholic Conference said that, without such protection, it may be necessary for Catholic agencies to cease offering mental health services. Once such agency in Lincoln provides about $100,000.00 worth of free mental health services annually.[CNA]

President Obama dismisses President's Council on Bioethics

A bioethics advisory group appointed by President George W. Bush in 2001 has been disbanded. Reid Cherlin, a spokesman for the administration, said that the now defunct Council had philosophical leanings and tended to engage in discussion rather than the development of consensus. A new council to be appointed will be responsible for offering "practical policy options." Prof. R. Alta Charo of the University of Wisconsin commented that the Council had acted like a debating club, and that a new council should help to develop "ethically defensible policy." [New York Times] The difficulty here is that no consensus exists with respect to a number of controversial issues. Thus, practical policy options will either have to be based on disputed reasoning, or upon a false consensus manufactured by the exclusion of dissenting opinions. [See Establishment Bioethics] Charo, an Obama supporter who was on Obama's transition team, has been among those who want restrictions placed on freedom of conscience for health care workers.[See The Silence of Good People]

12 June, 2009
Statement on withdrawal of food and fluids

The National Catholic Bioethics Center has published a statement from 14 Catholic scholars on the subject of Catholic teaching on the provision of artificial nutrition and hydration. The statement is reported to be a response to Undue Burden?, a commentary published in February, 2009 by the Consortium of Jesuit Bioethics Programs. The differences between the two groups indicate the potential for conflicts of conscience even within denominational health care institutions that are formally governed by common principles.

11 June, 2009
Obstetrician refuses to sterilize woman

A Brampton, Ontario, obstetrician has refused to sterilize a 21 year old woman who is pregnant with her second child. The woman and her husband intend to make careers as police officers and want only two children. There are no medical reasons for the procedure. The news report does not disclose whether or not the Caesareansection contemplated by the woman is related to her request for sterilization. In any case, obstetrician refused because he considered her too young for the procedure. Her family doctor has told her that it is unlikely he will find any obstetricians willing to do a tubal ligation on a woman her age. [Toronto Sun] The physician's refusal appears to be motivated by prudential judgement, not reasons of conscience.

10 June, 2009
UN Committee Against Torture oversteps mandate

The UN Committee Against Torture has overstepped its mandate in criticizing Nicaragua's legal ban of abortion. The abuse of its mandate is reflected in the fact that its criticism of the legal status quo in Nicaragua made no reference to the actual provisions of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The definition of torture in the Convention has nothing to do with pregnancy or abortion. [CAT/C/NIC/CO/1 10 June 2009] The criticism appears to result from an accusation by Amnesty International, and is consistent with attempts to characterize conscientious objection to abortion as a crime against humanity. [See Conscientious Objection as a Crime Against Humanity]

Mexican health care workers register objections

Official Mexican Norm (NOM) 046-SSA2-200519 states that an abortion will be provided to a rape complainant within 72 hours of the request. Hundreds of health care workers and institutions in Mexico are reported to be registering their objections to avoid participation in the procedure. The states of Aguascalientes, Baja California, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Guanajuato, Jalsico, Michoacan, Nuevo Lion, Puebla, Queretaro, Tabasco, and Tamaulipas are among those in which workers and institutions are seeking exemption from the regulation.[LifeSite News]

9 June, 2009
Concerned medical professionals speak up in California

A group of concerned physicians held a press conference in Sacramento, California, to express concern about the intention of the Obama administration to revoke a federal protection of conscience regulation. They released letters to President Barack Obama and the Governor of New York which warn that suppression of freedom of conscience in health care will drive many out of the professions and exacerbate existing problems with access to health care. [News release][Media advisory][Letter to President][Letter to Governor of California][Media coverage][NPR report]

5 June, 2009
Second assisted suicide amendment proposed in Britain

Lord Falconer of Thoroton has tabled an amendment to the Coroners and Justice Bill, now before the British House of Lords. The amendment would make it legal to assist a person to leave the country to commit suicide. The amendment requires certificates from two medical practitioners to the effect that the patient is terminally ill and competent. [Amendment]

May

31 May, 2009
Assisted suicide activism in Britain

Lord Alderdice has proposed an amendment to the Coroners and Justice Bill that is being considered in the British House of Lords. The amendment would permit assisted suicide in cases of "confirmed, incurable and disabling disease" that prevent someone from committing suicide without assistance, as long as a certificate from the coroner is obtained in advance. The amendment includes no protection of conscience provision. On the other hand, it does not identify any individual or profession as having responsibility to provide assistance. [House of Lords]

The House of Lords will soon be hearing the case of Debbie Purday, who is seeking assurance that her husband will not be prosecuted for assisted suicide if he takes her to Switzerland for that purpose. Meanwhile, 800 Britons are reported to have joined Dignitas, the Swiss suicide organization, and 34 are ready to go to Zurich to commit suicide.[The Guardian]

22 May, 2009
Cardinal welcomes President's promise to protect conscience

The President of the U.S. Bishops' Conference, Francis Cardinal George, has expressed appreciation for President Barack Obama's promise to "honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion," adding that he looks forward to working with the Administration to that end. [Catholic News Agency]

20 May, 2009
Hospital loses appeal; objector's suit to proceed

A Louisiana nurse who was fired because she refused to administer the morning after pill will get her day in court as a result of a decision by the Louisiana Supreme Court. The court has rejected an appeal by the hospital, which attempted unsuccessfully to secure a summary judgement in its favour in a lower court. The case dates from 2005. [ADF news release]

19 May, 2009
Congressmen respond to Obama's comment on conscience

US House of Representative members ames Sensenbrenner Jr. (Wis.), Chris Smith (N.J.) and John Fleming (La.) have written to President Obama expressing hope that he will stand by his comments at the Notre Dame commencement and ensure that health care providers should not be forced to participate in procedures to which they object for reasons of conscience [The Hill]

18 May, 2009
Freedom of conscience advocates question Obama's intentions

President Obama's reference to a "sensible" conscience clause has elicited a sceptical response from a large Amercian advocacy group, the Freedom2Care coalition."We have specifically requested a meeting with President Obama or his staff and have not received any response. If the president is truly concerned about finding common ground, he should meet with doctors and patients who would be affected by the rescission of the conscience clause, rather than spout meaningless rhetoric in name of unity."[News release]

17 May, 2009
President Obama calls for "sensible" conscience clause

Speaking at the commencement ceremony at Notre Dame University, President Barack Obama called for "open hearts, open minds and fair minded words" when addressing controversial topics like abortion. He said, "Let's honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded not only in sound science, but also in clear ethics, as well as respect for the equality of women." [Text of Address] The practical problem continues to be the difficulty of reaching agreement about what is "sensible."

12 May, 2009
Catholic hospital fined for refusing to provide abortion

In 2008, the Saint Ignatius University Hospital (Hospital Universitario San Ignacio) in Columbia refused to provide a eugenic abortion. The Columbian government has announced that it will fine the hospital the equivalent of about $5,100.00 for refusing to provide the procedure. [LifeSite News]

4 May, 2009
Pope reminds audience of centrality of freedom of conscience

Addressing the Pontifical Academy of Social Science, Pope Benedict XVI reminded the audience that "the right to life and the right to freedom of conscience and religion as being at the centre of those rights that spring from human nature itself." [Text]

1 May, 2009
Ontario politician proposes protection of conscience law

Responding to attacks on freedom of conscience from the Ontario Human Rights Commission, Randy Hillier, a candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party in Ontario, Canada, has proposed a Freedom of Association and Conscience Act.

340,000 comments reported to support freedom of conscience regulation

American organizations opposing President Obama's plan to revoke a regulation protecting freedom of conscience in health care have reported that 340,000 comments supporting their position have been submitted to the Department of Health and Human Services. [LifeSite News]

Freedom of conscience defended in Montana assisted suicide case

The Christian Legal Society and Christian Medical Association have filed an amicus brief in the Montana Supreme Court in the appeal of Baxter vs. State of Montana. Robert Baxter was a plaintiff in a case that led to a finding by a Montana judge that there is a "constitutional right" to physician assisted suicide in the state. The brief asks the Supreme Court to reverse the ruling, but focuses on the need for freedom of conscience for Montana physicians in the face of a judicially created "right" to asissted suicide.[News release][Brief] [The Case of the Disappearing Plaintiffs: Robert Baxter et al vs. State of Montana (Montana, USA, 2008-2009)]

April

30 April, 2009
President Obama: words vs. actions

Responding to a question at a news conference about a proposed Freedom of Choice Act, President Barack Obama stated that the bill is not a high legislative priority. He said that he plans to "focus on those areas that we can agree on." [Transcript] If that is his intention, one would expect him to support measures to ensure that health care workers are not forced to participate in procedures to which they object for reasons of conscience. Instead, he ordered the suspension of a protection of conscience regulation enacted by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2008, and his administration is moving to revoke it.

29 April, 2009
Missouri House passes bill to protect pharmacies

Missouri House Bill 226 will make it impossible for force any pharmacy in the state to "perform, assist, recommend, refer to, or participate in any act or service in connection with any drug or device that is an abortifacient, including but not limited to the RU486 drug and emergency contraception such as the Plan B drug." The bill also prohibits litigation, disciplinary action or discrimination against pharmacies that refuse to dispense such drugs or devices. The bill has passed the Missouri House as an amendment A news report describes it as a protection of conscience measure, and it would be supportive of objecting pharmacists. However, it does not refer to freedom of conscience. At least one supporter of the bill appears to argue that the bill is intended to protect businesses in the free market against unwarranted state interference.[Missourian]

Michigan Senate resolutions supports freedom of conscience

By a vote of 136-12, the Michigan State Senate resolved to support the HHS regulation against plans by the Obama Administration to revoke it. [Michigan Senate Resolution No. 43] The resolution was applauded by the state's Catholic Conference.

Amnesty International calls Nicaragua abortion ban 'torture'

Amnesty International claims that a Nicaraguan law against abortion violates the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The charge is completely at odds with the definition of "torture" used in the Convention. [Amnesty Briefing] The accusation is consistent with attempts to characterize conscientious objection to abortion as a crime against humanity. [See Conscientious Objection as a Crime Against Humanity]

28 April, 2009
Fordham University hosts panel on conscience issues

Fordham University's Center on Religion and Culture hosted a forum called, "Matters of Conscience: When Moral Precepts Collide with Public Policy." Panelists were Robert Vischer, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of St. Thomas Law School and author of Conscience and the Common Good: Reclaiming the Space Between Person and State (Cambridge, 2009), Douglas Kmiec, the Caruso Family Chair in Constitutional Law at Pepperdine University, Nadine Strossen, professor of law at New York University, and Marc D. Stern, acting co-executive director of the American Jewish Congress. [Fordham]

Center for American Progress panel "When Consciences Collide"

Sally Steenland, Senior Policy Advisor for the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative of the Center for American Progress, moderated a panel discussion that included Holly Fernandez Lynch, Author of Conflicts of Conscience in Health Care: An Institutional Compromise; Willie J. Parker, an Obstetrician/Gynecologist and Director of Family Planning for Washington Hospital Center; Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, Professor of Theology at Chicago Theological Seminary and CAP Senior Fellow; and Melissa Rogers, Director of the Center for Religion and Public Affairs at the Wake Forest University Divinity School. [CAP]

26 April, 2009
Another complaint against physicians unwilling to assist suicide

The legalization of assisted suicide in Washington state is generating attacks on health care workers unwilling to be involved with the procedure. The first patient to ask for a lethal prescription could not find a physician willing to provide it before he died. His granddaughter complains that Spokane area hospitals "do not provide support or direction of any kind" for assisted suicide. She is urging citizens to contact legislators to demand "access to all our rights according to the law." The implication is that institutions and/or health care workers should be forced to participate in assisted suicide.[The Spokesman Review] "The day may be coming, and it might not be that far away," warns Wesley J. Smith, "when doctors who are asked to help kill a patient. . .will be forced to either do the deed or refer to a doctor her or she knows will do the deed." [Second Hand Smoke]

21 April, 2009
Genetic engineering outpaces law

Two years ago, Japanese researcher Shinya Yamanaka announced that he had discovered how adult skin cells can be converted into stem cells, which can be used to produce other kinds of body tissue. It now appears that it would be possible to use stem cells derived from the skin of a single adult to produce both sperm and egg, which could then be combined to produce a human embryo. The possibility is discussed in a paper, The Challenge of Regulating Rapidly Changing Science: Stem Cell Legislation in Canada. The authors argue against legal restrictions on such research on the grounds that legislation cannot keep pace with scientific developments.

16 April, 2009
Southern Baptist leader opposes anti-religious secularization

Richard Land, President of The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, argues that American political life and freedom will suffer if the expression of religious belief is suppressed in public discourse. See The Danger of the State as a Substitute for Conscience.

15 April, 2009
Florida bill raises concern about freedom of conscience

The Florida Catholic Conference of Bishops is lobbying state legislators because of concern that the proposed Prevention First Act (Senate Bill 310) would adversely affect health care workers opposed to abortion and the morning-after pill.[Florida Catholic] The bill imposes a duty on institutions and pharmacies that stock contraceptives to provide the drug to rape complainants, but does not impose a duty on individual health care workers. However, parts of the bill could be interpreted to require referral, a condition that is not acceptable to some conscientious objectors.

13 April, 2009
Reform Jewish movement supports revocation of protection of conscience measure

Speaking on behalf of Reform Judaism, Rabbi David Saperstein of the organization's Religious Action Center has issued a statement supporting revocation of the HHS regulation that secures freedom of conscience for health care workers. [JT] On the other hand, Saperstein, acting as individual, signed a letter supporting the principle of freedom of conscience in health care [See Supporters of freedom of conscience in USA include administration advisors].

9 April, 2009
American survey indicates support for freedom of conscience in health care

A large majority of American adults surveyed in a poll commissioned by the Christian Medical Association (CMA) support freedom of conscience in health care, and an overwhelming majority of responding Christian physicians state that they will leave medicine rather than violate their conscientious convictions.[Survey]

Canadian case illustrates potential for conflicts of conscience

A two month-old baby diagnosed with Joubert Syndrome is at the centre of an ethical controversy at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children. The parents of Kaylee Wallace would have aborted her had they been aware of the condition, which is not described as a terminal illness [Joubert Syndrome Foundation]. They instructed doctors to remove her respirator, expecting that she would die and that her heart could be transplanted. Kaylee did not stop breathing, as a result of which the hospital decided that she was not a potential organ donor. The child's father was angered by the suggestion of a doctor that food and fluids should be withdrawn in order to cause her death "with dignity." A disability rights group has complained that the child is not dying but is being portrayed as if she is, while the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has expressed concern that Ontario's "Non Heart Beating Cadaver Donor Protocol" encourages organ harvesting before death has been clearly established. The case involves several contentious ethical issues and illustrates the potential for conflicts of conscience among health care workers who find themselves in such a situation.[LifeSite News]

Supporters of freedom of conscience in USA include administration advisors

Eight prominent American religious believers have signed a letter to President Obama urging support for freedom of conscience in health care. Five of the signatories are members of a presidential advisory council. While they are not unanimous in their views on the HHS regulation itself, they argue that a proper approach will permit accommodation of conscientious objection to the point of undue hardship.

The letter was signed by

  • Nathan Diament - Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations
  • Rev. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist's Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission;
  • Catholic scholar Douglas Kmiec
  • Robert Fretwell-Wilson, professor of law, Washington & Lee University
  • Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners;
  • Pastor Joel Hunter, Florida 'megachurch'
  • Melissa Rogers, Wake Forest University
  • Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Diament, Hunter, Sapperstein and Rodgers are members of President Obama's Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnership Advisory Council. [Christianity Today]

Washington physicians reluctant to participate in assisted suicide

"You can't fault them for their own moral decisions, but there's a point where easing suffering comes into play," Steve Wallace said.

The comment, from a man whose father was unable to find a Washington State physician willing to participate in his suicide, reflects the same reasoning that would see objecting health care workers forced to participate in controversial procedures. Washington legalized assisted suicide on 5 March, 2009. (News Tribune)

Commenting on the story, Wesley J. Smith stated its primary purpose was "to "shame" area doctors and hospitals to participate in assisted suicide." (Secondhand Smoke)

New Jersey Catholic Bishops defend freedom of conscience

Catholic bishops representing 3.5 million adherents in New Jersey have told the Obama administration that freedom of conscience is one of the "building blocks" of American society, and is a human right that Congress can neither create nor grant. They oppose revocation of the HHS protection of conscience regulation. [Catholic Star Herald]

Law professor calls conscientious objection selfish, unprofessional

Julie D. Cantor, an adjunct professor at the UCLA School of Law, Los Angeles, has attacked the idea of freedom of conscience in health care in an opinion piece published in the New England Journal of Medicine. See the Project's response: Conscientious Objection: Resisting Ethical Aggression in Medicine.

8 April, 2009
News conference highlights concern about freedom of conscience

Health care professionals appeared at a news conference held by Freedom2Care at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, to draw attention to their concerns about freedom of conscience in health care. The conference was held the day before the last day for public comment on plans by the Obama administration to revoke a protection of conscience regulation enacted by the previous administration. [Fox News]

Bishop cites American history of respect for freedom of conscience

William Murphy, Catholic Bishop of Rockville Centre, has warned that plans by the Obama administration to revoke a protection of conscience regulation are inconsistent with the best political and legal traditions of the United States. Bishop Murphy is the chairman of the the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. [Nation's conscience rights history is threatened]

7 April, 2009
Montana physicians unwilling to participate in assisted suicide

A euthanasia/assisted suicide activist group, Compassion and Choices (formerly the Hemlock Society) has released a statement from a woman who has been unable to find a doctor in the state willing to prescribe lethal medication. Last fall, a Montana judge ruled that assisted suicide was a constitutional "right" in the state. The state medical association holds that involvement in assisted suicide is unethical. (Bozeman Daily Chronicle)

6 April, 2009
Illinois judge restrains state government

The Illinois Circuit Court in Springfield has issued a temporary order that prohibits state officials from enforcing a 2005 regulation that ordered all pharmacies to dispense potential embryocides. The judge ruled that the regulation could harm objecting pharmacists and was prima facie in violation of the state'sHealth Care Right of Conscience Act. [News release]

Obstetrics/gynaecology group opposes suppression of conscience in USA

Dr. Robert Walley, executive director head of MaterCare International (MCI), has denounced plans by the Obama administration to revoke a protection of conscience regulation for health care workers. Dr. Walley protests that the plans amount to "a form of totalitarianism and. . . discrimination and persecution." MaterCare International is an association of obstetrician/gynaecologists that works to ensure the health of mothers and babies.

4 April, 2009
Major Canadian daily describes conscience as "next moral quagmire"

A lengthy article by Charles Lewis in Canada's National Post discusses current and developing controversies in Canada and the United States over freedom of conscience in health care [The next moral quagmire: conscience].

3 April, 2009
Countries continue to oppose 'rights' claims

Attempts by activists to secure recognition by the UN Commission on Population and Development (CPD) of sexual and reproductive health "rights" have failed. The term "sexual and reproductive health and rights" was removed from the final document, and delegates representing nine countries went on to explicitly deny that the final document included any new "rights" or that it could be construed to promote a "right" to abortion. The point is important because of continuing and intensifying effforts to suppress freedom of conscience by declaring morally controversial services and procedures to be human "rights."[CFAM]

Assisted suicide activism

A 45 year old English woman who suffers from multiple sclerosis and wants to commit suicide has been given leave to appeal to the House of Lords. Debbie Purdy wants to ensure that her husband will not be prosecuted if he assists her by going with her to a suicide facility in Switzerland run by Dignitas. [Telegraph & Argus] Dignitas is reported to be seeking confirmation that Swiss law will allow the assisted suicide of a healthy Canadian woman. She wants to commit suicide at the Dignitas facility with her husband, who is ill. [BBC] Legalization of assisted suicide would cause conflicts of conscience in the medical profession in England and elsewhere[SeeBritish survey shows most physicians oppose assisted suicide].

2 April, 2009
Conscience protection amendment fails in U.S. Senate

Sen. Tom Coburn, a physician, proposed an amendment to a budget bill to ensure that the money was not used to suppress freedom of conscience among health care workers. The amendment was defeated. [News release]

Democratic Party senators urge President to respect conscience

Two U.S. Senators who are members of President Obama's Democratic party have asked the President to preserve freedom of conscience for health care workers. In a letter to the President, Senators Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania asked him "to preserve the conscience protection rule, which defends individual health care providers and entities with moral concerns regarding specific procedures." [Christian Telegraph]

1 April, 2009
New president of divinity school opposes freedom of conscience for health care workers

Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, an Episcopal minister who will become president and dean of Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, considers abortion a "blessing" and believes that everyone involved in providing abortions is doing "holy work." In consequence, Ragsdale opposes freedom of conscience for health care workers and demands that they leave their professions if they refuse to become involved with abortion. These comments were made in 2007 [NARAL] and were presumably available to the School when she was unanimously chosen for "gifts, skills, and experience" which were said to be "an excellent match" for the selection criteria employed by the school. [EDS News release]