Bill raises questions about delicate balance of doctor and patient rights near life’s end

CN Cronkite News

Arizona PBS

Saundra Wilson

PHOENIX – “Please don’t ask me to do that,” Dr. Paul Liu, a pediatric critical-care physician, said to grieving parents who had asked him to quietly end their child’s life.

Liu said he was frank with the parents, who wanted to put a stop to their sons’s suffering from a terminal illness. He advised them not to pursue an early death for their child because it’s not something they would want on their conscience.

“In their pain and suffering they wanted to end it much more quickly than natural courses would take,” said Liu, who recalled the story as he spoke in favor of Senate Bill 1439 at a Senate health and human services committee meeting this week. . . . [Full Text]

Pioneering Islamic scholar, defender of women coming to Fresno: ‘Islam, Christianity and Judaism share the same genome’

The Fresno Bee

Carmen George

An Islamic scholar who served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense regarding Middle Eastern affairs and who helped draft Iraq’s constitution is this year’s Fresno Interfaith Scholar Weekend speaker.

“With what is going on in the world, we immediately decided it was an Islamic scholar that we needed – a great Islamic mind to share with us,” Jim Grant, chairman of the Fresno Interfaith Scholar Weekend Committee and director of the Social Justice Ministry for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno, said about this year’s speaker, Abdulaziz Sachedina.

Sachedina is the International Institute of Islamic Thought chairman of Islamic Studies at George Mason University in Virginia. He will present a series of talks Friday through Feb. 26 at the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno, Temple Beth Israel, Wesley United Methodist Church and Fresno City College centered around the theme, “Islam, Human Rights, and Interfaith Dialogue.” The annual event is sponsored by around 30 churches and organizations in the central San Joaquin Valley. . . [Full text]

Health professionals to court: Don’t allow Vermont to force us to help kill patients

 News Release

Alliance Defending Freedom

RUTLAND, Vt. – Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden and ADF-allied attorney Michael Tierney will be available for media interviews Tuesday following a federal court hearing in a health care professionals’ lawsuit against Vermont officials in two state agencies. The medical professionals are asking the court to stop those agencies from forcing physicians and other health care workers to help kill their patients while their lawsuit proceeds and are asking the court to reject the agencies’ request to dismiss the lawsuit.

ADF attorneys and Tierney represent the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare and the Christian Medical and Dental Association, groups of medical professionals who wish to abide by their oath to “do no harm.”

“The government shouldn’t be telling health care professionals that they must violate foundational medical ethics in order to practice medicine,” said Aden, who will argue before the court Tuesday. “Because the state has no authority to order them to act contrary to that reasonable and time-honored conviction, we are asking the court to allow this lawsuit to proceed and to ensure that no state agency is able to force them to violate their ethics while this lawsuit moves forward.”

The state agencies, the Board of Medical Practice and the Office of Professional Regulation, are reading the state’s assisted suicide law to require health care professionals, regardless of their conscience or oath, to counsel patients on doctor-prescribed death as an option. Although Act 39, Vermont’s assisted suicide bill, passed with a very limited protection for attending physicians who don’t wish to dispense death-inducing drugs themselves, state medical licensing authorities have construed a separate, existing mandate to counsel and refer for “all options” for palliative care to include a mandate that all patients hear about the “option” of assisted suicide.

As the brief in support of the requested motion for preliminary injunction in Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare v. Hoser explains, “Vermont’s Act 39 makes the State the first and only one to mandate that all licensed healthcare professionals counsel terminal patients about the availability and procedures for physician-assisted suicide, and refer them to willing prescribers to dispense the death-dealing drug. Act 39 coerces professionals to counsel patients about the ‘benefits’ of assisted suicide—benefits that Plaintiffs’ members do not believe exist—and in addition stands in opposition to a federal law protecting healthcare professionals who cannot participate in assisted suicide for conscientious reasons.”

“Because Plaintiffs’ attempts to repeal or amend the law have proven futile, and enforcement is imminent,” the brief continues, “Plaintiffs…[ask] for a preliminary injunction enjoining Defendants from enforcing the provisions of Act 39…and its incorporated statutes…against their members for declining to counsel or refer patients diagnosed with ‘terminal conditions’ on the availability of physician-assisted suicide.”


Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

 

Conscience, compassion and health care

Angelus

Archbishop José Gomez

On Oct. 23, we celebrated our annual White Mass for those in the healing professions of medicine and health care at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

As we know, Christians have been doctors and nurses from the earliest days of the Church. Before Christianity, the healing arts were practiced by self-taught individuals who traveled from town to town. Christians invented the hospital and were the first to establish medicine as a profession, with standards for training and care and a commitment to medical research.

From the beginning, Christian doctors served everyone, regardless of religion or social status, and they refused to turn any patient away — even those with highly contagious diseases.

Historians tell us that Christians were the only ones who cared for the sick and dying during the plagues and epidemics that afflicted the late Roman Empire. Many of them died from diseases they contracted from their patients.

Something else distinguished early Christian doctors — from the beginning they refused to take part in abortion, infanticide, birth control, assisted suicide or castration, all of which they considered bad medical practice and contrary to the truths of the Gospel.

These basic commitments continue to distinguish Catholic and Christian doctors and nurses. But these are challenging times in health care. . . [Full text]

Prevailing culture hard on religious liberty

Policy hits conscience; believers often classified as bigots

Catholic Sentinel

Ed Langlois

Oregon tends to lead the pack in causes favored by some wings of the political left — legal abortion, assisted suicide, gay marriage, recreational marijuana.

Some fear that next on the progressive docket could be tax exemption for churches and the right of church agencies to operate according to their ancient beliefs, especially in the dignity of life and marriage.

‘Striking change’

“There has been a striking change just in the last 10 or even just five years,” says Bishop Liam Cary of the Diocese of Baker in central and eastern Oregon.

Bishop Cary cites demographics. Among the fastest-growing groups in Oregon is the population without religious affiliation. That means they have no personal interest in protecting religious freedom. In their minds, personal choice trumps religious liberty, the bishop says.

Also new is the government’s willingness to use policy to try to force people to act against conscience. . . [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]

Doctor, multiple pregnancy care centers file federal suit over Illinois mandate to promote abortion

SB 1564 violates federal law, Constitution

News Release

Alliance Defending Freedom

ROCKFORD, Ill. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing multiple pregnancy care centers, a pregnancy care center network, and a doctor and her medical practice filed suit Thursday in federal court against Gov. Bruce Rauner after he recently signed a bill into law that forces them to promote abortion regardless of their ethical or moral views. The lawsuit also names Bryan Schneider, secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

ADF sent a letter to Rauner in May on behalf of numerous pro-life physicians, pregnancy care centers, and pregnancy care center network organizations advising him that the bill, SB 1564, would violate federal law and therefore place federal funding, including Medicaid reimbursements, in jeopardy. ADF also warned legislators about the problems with the bill last year. The lawsuit claims the new law, which is actually an amendment to the existing Illinois Healthcare Right of Conscience Act, violates federal law and the U.S. Constitution.

“No state should attempt to rob women of the freedom to choose a pro-life doctor, but that is the choice that Illinois is eliminating by mandating that pro-life physicians and entities make or arrange abortion referrals. To make matters worse, the state did this by amending a law designed specifically to protect freedom of conscience,” said ADF Senior Counsel Matt Bowman. “As our lawsuit explains, the law is incompatible with the U.S. Constitution and both federal and state law, which protect citizens from being forced by the government to live and act in a way contrary to their faith and conscience.”

The new law forces pregnancy care centers, medical facilities, and physicians who conscientiously object to involvement in abortions to adopt policies that provide women who ask for abortions with a list of providers “they reasonably believe may offer” them. Both federal and state law prohibit the government from placing burdens on religious conscience without a compelling interest for doing so. Additionally, the Illinois Constitution protects “liberty of conscience,” saying that “no person shall be denied any civil or political right, privilege or capacity, on account of his religious opinions.” Both the Illinois Constitution and the U.S. Constitution protect free speech, which includes the right not to be compelled by government to speak a message contrary to one’s own conscience.

“Medical professionals and pregnancy care centers shouldn’t be forced to speak a message completely at odds with their mission and ethics,” explained ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “The centers offer women free information and services and do so at no cost to the government. They empower women who are or think they may be pregnant to give birth in circumstances where they may want to but don’t feel they have the necessary resources or social support. All SB 1564 accomplishes is to eliminate this choice for the women who need it most.”

Mauck & Baker LLC attorneys Noel Sterett and Whitman Briskey, two of nearly 3,100 private attorneys allied with ADF, are co-counsel in the case, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Rauner, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. ADF attorneys filed a similar lawsuit in state court last month.

  • Pronunciation guide: Bowman (BOH’-min)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

Referrals for Services Prohibited In Catholic Health Care Facilities

persp-sex-repro-healthAbstract:

  • Context | Catholic hospitals control a growing share of health care in the United States and prohibit many common reproductive services, including ones related to sterilization, contraception, abortion and fertility. Professional ethics guidelines recommend that clinicians who deny patients reproductive services for moral or religious reasons provide a timely referral to prevent patient harm. Referral practices in Catholic hospitals, however, have not been explored.
  • Methods | Twenty-seven obstetrician-gynecologists who were currently working or had worked in Catholic facilities participated in semistructured interviews in 2011–2012. Interviews explored their experiences with and perspectives on referral practices at Catholic hospitals. The sample was religiously and geographically diverse. Referral-related themes were identified in interview transcripts using qualitative analysis.
  •  Results | Obstetrician-gynecologists reported a range of practices and attitudes in regard to referrals for prohibited services. In some Catholic hospitals, physicians reported that administrators and ethicists encouraged or tolerated the provision of referrals. In others, hospital authorities actively discouraged referrals, or physicians kept referrals hidden. Patients in need of referrals for abortion were given less support than those seeking referrals for other prohibited services. Physicians received mixed messages when hospital leaders wished to retain services for financial reasons, rather than have staff refer patients elsewhere. Respondents felt referrals were not always sufficient to meet the needs of low-income patients or those with urgent medical conditions.
  •  Conclusions | Some Catholic hospitals make it difficult for obstetrician-gynecologists to provide referrals for comprehensive reproductive services.

Stulberg DB, Jackson  RA, Freedman LR.  Referrals for Services Prohibited In Catholic Health Care Facilities. Perspect Sex Repro H, 48:111–117. doi:10.1363/48e10216

Conscience Protection Act passes U.S. House of Representatives

By a vote of 245 to 182 the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Conscience Protection Act, a bill designed to prevent government discrimination against and  prevent the suppression of the freedom of conscience and religion of individuals or groups unwilling to provide or facilitate abortion for reasons of conscience or religion.  The bill adds a right of action by victims, the lack of which has prevented victims from defending their freedom in court. President Barack Obama is expected to veto the legislation. [CNS News]

Forum on Conscience Protections

United States Congress Energy and Commerce Committee

Friday, July 8, 2016 – 9:00am

Location: 2123 Rayburn House Office Building

PARTICIPANTS

Marie-Alberte Boursiquot – M.D., F.A.C.P., President-elect of the Catholic Medical Association
Prepared remarks

William J. “Bill” Cox – President of the Alliance of Catholic Health Care
Prepared remarks

Cathy DeCarlo – Nurse, New York
Prepared remarks

Richard Doerflinger – Former Associate Director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Prepared remarks

Pastor Jim Garlow – Skyline Church, La Mesa, California
Prepared remarks

Donna J. Harrison, M.D. – Executive Director of the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Prepared remarks

Pastor Chris Lewis – Foothill Church, Glendora, California
Prepared remarks

Casey Mattox – Senior Counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom
Prepared remarks

Fe Vinoya – Nurse, New Jersey
Prepared remarks

Dr. Dave Weldon – former Member of Congress and author of the Weldon Amendment, which was written to provide protections for entities that do not participate in abortion
Prepared remarks