1 September, 2012
Covering the period from 1 July to 31 August, 2012
1. By Region/Country
Visit the Project News/Blog for details.
The Canadian federal government has appealed the B.C.
Supreme Court decision of Carter v. Canada that struck down the
law against physician assisted suicide and euthanasia. The appeal will
be heard in March, 2013. In the meantime, Madam Justice Prowse of
the B.C. Supreme Court has ruled that Parliament need not change the
law, pending the outcome of the appeal,but she upheld the "constitional
exemption" that permits plaintiff Gloria Taylor to obtain physician
assisted suicide or euthanasia in the interim. An Associate Professor of
Medicine at McGill University, has protested the Carter ruling. He argues that the decision, if
upheld, would poison the practice of medicine, and that some new
profession should be created to implement it.
The leader of Alberta's Wild Rose Party, has stated that the party will
reverse its position on freedom of conscience, instead adopting a policy
that health care workers should be forced to facilitate services or
procedures to which they object for religious or moral reasons. The party lost the last provincial election, during which
Premier Alsion Redford, the successful incumbent, said she was "very
frightened" by the Wild Rose Party's support for freedom of conscience.
Two midwives who were ordered to supervise the provision of abortions
are appealing the decision of the Court of Session in Edinburgh against
freedom of conscience.
The Republican controlled House of
Representatives has voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act,
the federal health care reform legislation recently upheld by the U.S.
Supreme Court. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor/HHS
action has amended the annual appropriations bill to deny the Department
of Health and Human Services funding for enforcing regulations that
suppress freedom of conscience. It is unlikely that either measure
will ultimately have any effect, since the
Senate is controlled by the Democrats.
The Catholic Church and Catholic institutions are being joined by other
Christian groups in resisting the federal guidelines that would force
employers to pay for insurance for contraceptives, embryocides and
sterilization, despite moral or religious objections. The Lutheran
Church-Missouri Synod has spoken out, and lawsuits have been filed
Grace College and Seminary of Winona Lake, Indiana, and Biola University of
Mirada, California, bothEvangelical Christian colleges.
Private employers in Illinois
and Michigan who object to the
regulation have filed suit, and federal judge in
Colorado has granted a private
employer an injunction against the regulation.
Other federal judges have dismissed lawsuits
brought by a Catholic college and the State of
Nebraska as premature.
The Philippines House of Representatives has voted to end 19 months
of debate on a controversial Reproductive Health Bill that could have an
adverse impact on Passage on freedom of conscience for objecting
health care workers.[The
Philippines RH bill of 2011: the shape of things to come?] An amendment proposed
would still force health care workers to refer for services to which
they object for reasons of conscience, though "Without in anyway
agreeing or endorsing the family planning service or procedure required
by the persons concerned." The additional phrase is insufficient to protect those
who object to referral on the grounds that the act of referral itself
amounts to immoral participation. The country is divided on the bill.
It is strongly opposed by the Catholic Church.
2. News Items
All news items are now on the Project
News/Blog, archived by country. They can also be
searched by topic using the blog search box.
3. Recent Postings
All recent postings are now on the
Project News/Blog, archived by year and month.
4. Action Items
The Project will post notices of conferences
that are explore and support the principle freedom of conscience, including the
legitimate role of moral or religious conviction in shaping law and public
policy in pluralist states or societies.
6. Publications of Interest
An opinion piece in the New England Journal of Medicine asserts that
"momentum is building" in favour of assisted suicide and euthanasia,
citing activism in various jurisdictions and a recent Canadian court
ruling that struck down the law against physician assisted suicide.
The authors support assisted suicide and euthanasia, but do not see the
need for physician assistance. They suggest that the physician
role be limited to providing a written summary of a patient's condition,
prognosis and alternative treatments. Patients would then obtain
lethal prescriptions from some state authority. [NEJM]
The article is somewhat unclear about the extent to which the authors
would be willing to permit conscientious objection.
From the Project
Legalizing therapeutic homicide and assisted suicide: A tour of Carter v. Canada