ROME – After a two-year debate in Congress, Chile’s constitutional court has voted to approve a bill lifting the country’s total ban on abortion. The measure, that had the full support of President Michelle Bachelet, was criticized by the bishops, who said it “offends the conscience and the common good of the citizens.”
The legislation also gives no exemption to religious institutions, and conscience rights are offered only limited protection. . . [Full text]
In early August, an international group of abortion advocates met in Uruguay to discuss the potential removal of conscience protections for healthcare providers with regard to abortion.
Religious freedom is an obstacle to women’s health, according to conference organizer International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC). The group encourages advocates to ensure “that professional bodies recognize that personal beliefs can seriously undermine the provision of women-centered, professional health services.” . . . [Full Text]
A widespread assumption has taken hold in the field of medicine that we must allow health care professionals the right to refuse treatment under the guise of ‘conscientious objection’ (CO), in particular for women seeking abortions. At the same time, it is widely recognized that the refusal to treat creates harm and barriers for patients receiving reproductive health care. In response, many recommendations have been put forward as solutions to limit those harms. Further, some researchers make a distinction between true CO and ‘obstructionist CO’, based on the motivations or actions of various objectors. This paper argues that ‘CO’ in reproductive health care should not be considered a right, but an unethical refusal to treat. Supporters of CO have no real defence of their stance, other than the mistaken assumption that CO in reproductive health care is the same as CO in the military, when the two have nothing in common (for example, objecting doctors are rarely disciplined, while the patient pays the price). Refusals to treat are based on non-verifiable personal beliefs, usually religious beliefs, but introducing religion into medicine undermines best practices that depend on scientific evidence and medical ethics. CO therefore represents an abandonment of professional obligations to patients. Countries should strive to reduce the number of objectors in reproductive health care as much as possible until CO can feasibly be prohibited. Several Scandinavian countries already have a successful ban on CO.
A pro-life doctor in Illinois is embroiled in a legal battle to challenge a 2016 law that requires all doctors, pharmacists, and pregnancy centers to assist women in obtaining abortions, regardless of whether the medical professionals are opposed to the procedure.
SB 1564 narrowly passed the Illinois House on party lines before being signed into law by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner. Under the law, which amends the state’s Health Care Right of Conscience Act, doctors are required to provide information to patients about the “benefits” of abortion. It indicates that medical personnel must “inform a patient of the patient’s condition, prognosis, legal treatment options, and risks and benefits of the treatment options in a timely manner consistent with current standards of medical practice.” . . . [Full text]
According to an inspection report of the Birmingham Women’s National Health Service Foundation Trust, the facility did not consistently provide women seeking abortion with information to prepare them for the possibility of the survival of an infant following a late gestation abortion, including the need to notify the coroner should the infant die. (p. 4, 15) Apparently the outpatients’ clinic provided patients with this information verbally. (p. 16)
The effect of late term abortions on staff and patients is described as “distressing,” one of the risks in need of identification, monitoring and mitigation(p.6). Ward staff felt unprepared to respond to late term abortions involving the survival of an infant (p. 6), several complaining that they “had not received training that would equip them to deal with the physical and emotional aspects of advanced gestation abortions.” (p. 15, 18)
One issue was the need to develop “differential care pathways,” apparently related to decisions about how to manage a surviving or deceased infant based on the reason for the abortion. (p. 16)
Staff involved in what the report describes as a “new complex termination of pregnancy service” were not adequately prepared or engaged before it began, and “continued to express concerns” over a year after its introduction. Staff had been allowed to opt out of the service, but several (apparently among those who remained) complained about “distress to women and how they felt ill prepared to care for them.” (p. 31)
The report also states, without explanation, “The trust must ensure all HSA1 certificates for termination of pregnancy are fully completed by the registered medical practitioners signing them.” (p. 34) This may reflect a continuing problem with certification by physicians of the need for abortions, which is a legal requirement. Among problems previously identified was the practice of signing the forms in advance without actually seeing a patient.
These elements of the report illustrate the practical realities that inform the decisions of some health care personnel who refuse to provide or participate in abortion.
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]
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]
. . . Abortion has developed technologically and now includes medical and surgical methods, but, generally speaking, remains the deliberate killing of a developing human individual at some point between implantation in the uterus and birth, either directly or by premature delivery intended to cause death. The moral arguments against abortion have been refined and somewhat expanded since 1967, but their focus is substantially unchanged. . . Project Submission
A licensed practical nurse is suing the Winnebago County Health Department over allegedly violating her religious conscience.
Sandra Mendoza worked in the pediatrics unit until it was consolidated with women’s health and began offering contraception and abortion referrals. Citing her Catholic beliefs, she petitioned for an accommodation from the hospital. Her attorney, Noel Sterett, says what was offered in July of last year, either inspecting food or nursing home work, amounted to a demotion. . . [Full Text]
RZESZOW, Poland, May 24, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – An infamous private hospital in Poland has reportedly ceased committing abortions after every doctor at the hospital signed a clause opting out based on conscience.
The abortions at the Specialist Hospital Pro-Familia in Rzeszów were first exposed by midwife Agata Rejman in January 2014 at an emotional press conference where she discussed her traumatic experiences at the hospital. . . [Full text]