Dr. Coelho’s ‘crazy’ battle for conscience rights

The Catholic Register

Michael Swan

It’s not surprising patients fall in love with Dr. Ramona Coelho. Not just because she’s a young, pretty doctor who smiles easily, laughs frequently and focuses her attention completely on whoever is talking to her.

Her patients in London, Ont., know that she’s a doctor who is in it for something more than the status, money or security attached to most medical practices.

“I love my work,” Coelho confesses. “I love being a doctor. I love helping people and being with them — trying to find solutions for them.”

Her practice is heavily slanted to marginalized patients. Her waiting room is full of refugees, ex-cons, the poor. Many of her patients are on permanent disability.

All that is at risk as the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario mounts an ever more prickly defense of its “Professional Obligations and Human Rights Policy.” The policy is currently before the courts. It would force Ontario doctors to refer for abortions and for assisted suicide.  . . [Full text]

Catholic doctor fired for refusing to administer birth control. Court rules against her

LifeSite News

Natalia Dueholm

NOTODDEN, Norway, February 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Last week, a Norwegian court ruled against Katarzyna Jachimowicz, a Polish Catholic doctor fired for her unwillingness to insert intrauterine devices (IUDs).

The determined doctor decided in 2016 to fight for freedom based on conscience protections and tolerance for family doctors. However, on February 9, a district judge explained that the government has no desire to protect conscience in this case any further than absolutely necessary according to the European Convention on Human Rights. It simply prioritized the interest of women in accordance with “traditional Norwegian values.” The court found the discrimination against Catholic minorities in Norway irrelevant. . . [Full text]

Conscience and Conscientious Objection in Health Care

An ARC Discovery Project, running from 2015 to 2017

Summary of project

Conscientious objection is a central topic in bioethics and is becoming more ever important. This is hardly surprising if we consider the liberal trend in developments of policies about abortion and other bioethical issues worldwide. In recent decades the right to abortion has been granted by many countries, and increasingly many conservative and/or religious doctors are being asked to perform an activity that clashes with their deepest moral and/or religious values.

Debates about conscientious objection are set to become more intense given the increase in medical options which are becoming available or may well be available soon (e.g. embryonic stem cell therapies, genetic selection, human bio-enhancement, sex modification), and given the increasingly multicultural and multi-faith character of Australian society. Not only will doctors conscientiously object to abortion, and to practices commonly acknowledged as morally controversial, but some of them may also object to a wide range of new and even established practices that conflict with their personal values for example, Muslim doctors refusing to examine patients of the opposite sex.

Defining conscientious objection and identifying reliable markers for it, as well as setting the boundaries of legitimate conscientious objection through clear and justifiable principles, are difficult but pressing tasks.

This project advances bioethical debate by producing a philosophically and psychologically informed analysis of conscience, and by applying this to discussions about the legitimate limits to conscientious objection in health care.

 Personnel

Chief Investigator Dr Steve Clarke, Charles Sturt University

Chief Investigator Prof. Jeanette Kennett, Macquarie University

Partner Investigator Prof. Julian Savulescu, University of Oxford

[Full text]

On assisted suicide, let’s remember that doctors have rights too

Waterloo Region Record

Luisa D’Amato

Physicians are supposed to save lives, not hasten death.

So it’s not surprising that some doctors are having problems seeing how they fit into Canada’s new law that legalizes physician-assisted suicide for some patients.

It turns out that conscientious objectors like Sandra Brickell, a physician who works in Kitchener hospitals, are not protected.

“When somebody wants to end their life, it goes against what we’ve been trained to do,” she said at a meeting Friday with several other doctors, Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht and Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris. . . [Full Text]

 

Christian-Run Nursing Home in Switzerland Forced to Allow Assisted Suicide or Lose Charitable Status

Christian Post

Stoyan Zaimov

A Christian nursing home run by the Salvation Army in Switzerland has been told that it must either allow assisted suicide despite its religious beliefs, or lose its charitable status.

The nursing home mounted a legal challenge against the country’s new assisted suicide rules which require charities taking care of the sick or elderly and to offer assisted suicide when a patient asks for it, Catholic Herald reports. But a Swiss court ruled against the nursing home earlier this month. . .[Full text]

 

What you need to know and do about the new HHS transgender mandate

CMDA – The Point

Jonathon Imbody

What do healthcare professionals and health institutions need to know about and how can they defend themselves from the Obama administration’s newly enacted transgender mandate?

What happened when?
The transgender mandate, promulgated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the assumed authority of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), went into effect July 18, 2016. A new website explains what the mandate requires, why it violates the law and what conscientious objectors can do to protect their rights.

Whom does the rule target?
HHS recently mandated that healthcare professionals must perform gender transition procedures on any child referred by a mental health professional, even if the physician believes the treatment or hormone therapy could harm the child.

Healthcare professionals who follow the Hippocratic Oath to act in the best interest of their patient instead of this new mandate can face severe consequences, including losing their jobs. The transgender mandate also requires virtually all private insurance companies and many employers to cover gender transition procedures or face stiff penalties and legal action. . . [Full text]

Doctors needed. Leave your conscience at home

 National Post

Marni Soupcoff

In a new paper, two prominent bioethicists suggest that all doctors should be required to see to it personally that any medical procedure — including abortions and assisted suicides — be performed for patients who request and qualify for them.

This should be the case, the authors argue, despite any personal moral or religious qualms the doctors may have about the operations or prescriptions in question. Sadly for devout Catholics, evangelical Protestants or others with deep religious or moral convictions, the prospect of medical school itself would be completely off the table if co-authors Udo Schuklenk and Julian Savulescu had their way; they argue that medical students should be screened for over-active consciences when it comes to things like contraception, abortion and euthanasia. Apparently those for whom these issues are anything but no-brainers shouldn’t be considered acceptable physician material at all. . . [Full text]

 

Bioethicist calls for a ban on doctors’ conscientious objection

The Sydney Morning Herald

Cameron Atfield

Doctors working in the public system should be banned from refusing to perform certain procedures, such as abortions, because of their religious beliefs, a leading bioethicist will argue in Brisbane next week.

Oxford-based Australian bioethicist Julian Savulescu will make the argument at a public lecture at the Queensland University of Technology’s Australian Centre for Health Law Research next Tuesday.

In his lecture, Professor Savulescu will also argue doctors and health professionals should only enter medical specialities in which their values would not be in conflict with routine legal medical procedures. . . [Full text]

“Now you want to crush every tiny focus of opposition”

Physicians’ Alliance Against Euthanasia Open letter to Mme Véronique Hivon

Note: Véronique Hivon, now a member of the Quebec National Assembly, was Minister of Health in the previous government and was responsible for bringing forward Quebec’s euthanasia law.

Mme Hivon:

You label as « ideology » the decision made by the McGill University Health Centre to not euthanize patients on the palliative care ward.

“The patients at the end of life are the ones who should have their rights respected and be at the centre of the organization of care”, you say. If that is what you really believe,

  • where were you when the number of palliative care beds at the MUHC was reduced for budgetary reasons?
  • When the specialized geriatrics unit was closed completely?
  • Why do you not speak out when patients are transferred all over the hospital and the city for trivial reasons, as is regularly done in Quebec?

What other than ideology could make you want to force hospitals, not only to kill patients, but to kill them in the one place where they most need to be protected?

Palliative care professionals are experts in easing the pain and suffering of terminally ill patients, accompanying them to the very end of their lives, with no need to kill them in order to do so. Now they are struggling, all over Quebec, to continue providing the same peace at the end of life in a situation where death is being promoted. Yes, promoted. This law was passed against the better judgment of those who know best how to care for the dying. Now you want to eliminate even the little safe space that is left for patients and professionals. All they ask for is one place in the hospital where there is no risk of being killed.

You got what you wanted when this law passed. Now you want to crush every tiny focus of opposition to your favourite project.

That is more than ideology. It’s intolerance, pure and simple.

We support the freedom of the palliative care professionals at the MUHC (and at every hospital) to ensure there are safe spaces for patients.

Yours truly,

[Original text and over sixty signatories]

 

Christian doctors challenge Ontario’s assisted-death referral requirement

Globe and Mail

Sean Fine

Groups representing more than 4,700 Christian doctors across the country have launched a court challenge to Ontario regulations that require them to refer patients to physicians willing to provide an assisted death, arguing the referrals are morally equivalent to participating in the procedure.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, however, takes issue with the faith groups’ position. “An effective referral does not foreshadow or guarantee an outcome,” college spokeswoman Tracey Sobers said in an e-mail.

Ewan Goligher, a doctor who works in the intensive care unit at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, said he considers himself a conscientious objector to doctor-assisted dying and supports the court challenge. “I think the patient is of greater value than their preference, and I cannot lift my hand to destroy that which is of fundamental value,” he said in an interview. . . [Full Text]