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]

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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


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




The Conscience Protection Act – Policy Lecture with Dr. John Fleming (R-La.)

News Release

Family Research Council

Despite longstanding protections in federal law to keep pro-life doctors, nurses, churches, and religious organizations from being forced to pay for or perform abortions, President Obama’s HHS has repeatedly ignored and refused to investigate clear violations of the law. In 2014, California, and recently New York, have imposed sweeping abortion mandates requiring all employers, including churches, to pay for abortions on-demand in their health insurance plans regardless of any moral and religious objections. The Conscience Protection Act (H.R. 4828) (CPA), introduced by Dr. Fleming (R-La.), would protect pro-life healthcare providers and organizations from just this sort of government discrimination. CPA codifies long-standing federal conscience laws, and provides a critical private right of action so that healthcare providers facing discrimination for refusing to participate in abortion can sue in federal court to protect their conscience rights. Nobody should have to choose between practicing medicine and practicing their religion. Join Family Research Council and Dr. John Fleming as he speaks on this crucial and commonsense measure.

Dr. John Fleming (R-La.), the author of the Conscience Protection Act of 2016 (H.R. 4828), is both a Navy veteran and medical doctor. He has represented Louisiana’s 4th Congressional district since 2009, and is currently a candidate to be the GOP nominee for Louisiana’s open Senate seat this November.

In the House, Dr. Fleming has worked in Congress for sensible health care reforms, authoring legislation urging all Members of Congress to participate in the same health care system that they create for the American people. Dr. Fleming serves on two House Committees: Armed Services and Natural Resources where he is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans. He serves as Co-Chairman of the GOP Doctor’s Caucus, a group that includes 14 physicians who work to develop patient-centered health care reforms.

Dr. Fleming has personally witnessed the miracle of life not only as a father of four children with his wife of 37 years, Cindy, and a grandfather of three, but also as a doctor who has delivered hundreds of babies. In 2007, he was even named the Louisiana Family Doctor of the Year. During his time in Congress, Dr. Fleming has championed conscience protections for medical personnel who choose not to participate in abortion practices.

Due to Congressional scheduling, please be advised that the start time of this lecture event is subject to change. If the live webcast does not begin at noon, stay tuned.

Light refreshments will be served.

Joining us in person for a lecture event:

We are looking forward to hosting you here for one of our lectures. In order for you to have the best experience possible, here are a few things you should know as you prepare to join us.

  1. Registration is required – fill out the form under “Register for this event” on the individual events page, and mark “In person” for the type of attendance.
  2. We require a photo ID for admittance.
  3. All packages and bags are subject to search upon entry to the building.
  4. We welcome an open and reasoned discussion of the social and policy topics we cover. However, your registration for our events is an agreement to conduct yourself with respect and courtesy toward our speakers and fellow attendees. FRC reserves the right to deny admission or remove from the premises anyone who conducts himself or herself in a manner which is disruptive, disrespectful, or dangerous.

By attending this event, you agree that the Family Research Council assumes no liability for injury, damage, or loss which may be related in any way to implementation of this policy. Anyone who is removed may be subject to arrest or detention by authorities for violation of this policy or the codes of the jurisdiction of the event. This policy is not designed to censor or limit free speech, but to ensure a safe environment where ideas can be freely exchanged.

Questions? Call 1-800-225-4008 and ask for the Lectures Coordinator.

Project asks Canadian MPs, Senators to stop coercion in homicide, suicide

News Release

For Immediate Release

Protection of Conscience Project

“If it is ‘unacceptable’ for Members of Parliament to use physical force against each other, surely it is “unacceptable” for state institutions or others to use the force of law to compel people to be parties to inflicting death upon others, and to punish those who refuse.”

That is the message over 400 Canadian Members of Parliament and Senators returning to Ottawa will find on their desks in a letter from the Protection of Conscience Project.  The letters began to arrive Friday morning and should be waiting for MPs and Senators returning to Parliament to resume sitting on Monday.

The Project is proposing an amendment to the government’s Bill C-14, which is intended to allow medical and nurse practitioners to provide euthanasia and assisted suicide in accordance with the ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada in Carter v. Canada (Attorney General).

“Writing directly to individual legislators is a very unusual step,” said Sean Murphy, Administrator of the Protection of Conscience Project.  The letter was sent because of the gravity of the issue, and because the Project’s submission on Bill C-14 – like many others – was not distributed to members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights before it concluded its deliberations on the bill.

“Ironically, perhaps,” states the letter, “what the Protection of Conscience proposes is not a protection of conscience amendment.”

“Instead, the amendment is limited to the criminal law, which is strictly and fully within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada.”

In making the argument that the criminal law should prohibit coerced participation in homicide and suicide, the letter refers to the conduct of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau the House of Commons on 18 May, which caused an uproar in the House and delayed debate on Bill C-14.

“The delay caused by the Prime Minister has made it possible to make this one last effort to reach legislators,” said Murphy, “and his conduct has enabled the Project to make its point in a very practical way.”


Sean Murphy, Administrator

Amended C-14 includes nod to conscience protection

Catholic Register

Deborah Gyapong

OTTAWA – An amendment to Canada’s proposed assisted suicide legislation fails to go far enough to protect conscience rights and religious freedom, say several opponents.

The Justice Committee voted to amend Bill C-14 to add a clause that says no one should be compelled to participate in euthanasia and assisted suicide. But Conservative MPs, medical and legal representatives want further amendments before Bill C-14 becomes law, expected by June 6.

The committee added a clause May 11 that says: “For greater certainty, nothing in this section compels an individual to provide or assist in providing medical assistance in dying.” It also amended the preamble to stipulate that the bill recognizes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees regarding freedom of conscience and religion.

But the bill still fails to provide protection for institutions that refuse to participate in assisted suicide or address the issue of referrals. . .[Full Text]


Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights

House of Commons, Parliament of Canada (May, 2016)

Re: Bill C-14


In February, 2015, in the case of Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the criminal prohibition of physician assisted suicide and physician administered euthanasia, but suspended the ruling for one year to give federal and provincial governments an opportunity to draft new laws that conform to the decision.  In January, 2016, the Court granted an extension of the suspension to 6 June, 2016.  In the interim, it allowed euthanasia to proceed in Quebec under provincial legislation in force there, and allowed individuals seeking physician assisted suicide or euthanasia elsewhere to apply to a superior court to obtain authorization.

A special joint committee of the Canadian House of Commons and Senate began work in January and produced a first report in the last week of February.  On 14 April, 2016, the Liberal government introduced Bill C-14 to implement the Carter decision.  The House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights was responsible for reviewing the bill, amending it if need be, and returning it to the House of Commons for third reading.

Five hearings were held from 2 to 5 May, during which witnesses made presentations.  The Commitee also solicited submissions from the public, and specifically solicited submissions from the Protection of Conscience Project and others, with a deadline of 2 May, 2016.

The Project’s submission met the deadline.  However, it was not distributed to Committee members before the Committee concluded its deliberations on 11 May.  It is likely that an unknown number of other briefs submitted by the public were also not distributed.

For details and links to Committee materials and presentations relevant to freedom of conscience, including extracts from briefs and edited videos with transcripts, visit the Project’s Standing Committee web page.

Project proposes amendment to Canadian euthanasia/assisted suicide bill to stop coercion, intimidation

Amendment to Bill C-14 to prevent coerced participation in inflicting death

News Release
For immediate release

Protection of Conscience Project

The Protection of Conscience Project has proposed an amendment to Bill C-14 to prevent coercion, intimidation or other forms of pressure intended to force citizens to become parties to homicide or suicide.  The amendment is set out in a submission to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Bill C-14 is the bill proposed by Canada’s Liberal government to implement the 2015 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Carter v. Canada (Attorney General. It will legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia administered by medical an nurse practitioners.  However, the Bill as introduced does nothing to prevent intimidation and coercion of objecting health care workers to force them to participate in or facilitate the procedures by referral or similar means.

The Project’s proposed amendment is an addition that does not otherwise change the text of  Bill C-14. Nor does it touch the eligibility criteria proposed by Carter, nor the criteria or procedural safeguards recommended by the Special Joint Committee or Provincial-Territorial Expert Advisory Group.  It simply establishes that, as a matter of law and Canadian public policy, no one can be compelled to become a party to homicide or suicide, or punished or disadvantaged for refusing to do so.

The Protection of Conscience Project does not take a position on the acceptability of euthanasia or physician assisted suicide or the merits of legalization of the procedures. The Project’s concern is to ensure that health care workers who object to providing or participating in homicide and suicide for reasons of conscience or religion are not compelled to do so or punished or disadvantaged for refusal.

“Coercion, intimidation or other forms of pressure intended to force citizens to become parties to homicide or suicide is both an egregious violation of fundamental freedoms and a serious threat to society that justifies the use of criminal law,” states the submission.

“Other countries have demonstrated that it is possible to provide euthanasia and physician assisted suicide without suppressing fundamental freedoms.  None of them require ‘effective referral,’ physician-initiated ‘direct transfer’ or otherwise conscript objecting physicians into euthanasia/assisted suicide service.”


Sean Murphy, Administrator
Protection of Conscience Project

Conscientious refusal to kill deserves the protection of law. Bill C-14 doesn’t provide it.

News Release
For immediate release
Print | Audio

Protection of Conscience Project

In light of the assisted suicide/euthanasia bill introduced by the government of Canada (Bill C-14),1 it is necessary to emphatically reaffirm that conscientious refusal to kill people is a manifestation of essential humanity that deserves the protection of law.

Notwithstanding the assurances of Canada’s Minister of Health,2 Bill C-14 does not provide that protection. The government is deliberately ignoring the ongoing coercion of health care providers to compel participation in euthanasia, and Bill C-14 will allow coercion to continue.

The bill follows upon a report from a parliamentary Special Joint Committee formed to advise the government on a legislative response to the Supreme Court ruling in Carter v. Canada.3 Bill C-14 does not incorporate the Committee’s more radical recommendations. It does not, for example, make euthanasia and assisted suicide available as therapies for mental illness.4

However, it does indicate that the government intends to pursue this and other Committee recommendations.5 Two of them assert the authority of the state to command the use of deadly force: not merely to authorize it, but to command it.

The Special Joint Committee recommended that physicians unwilling to kill patients or help them commit suicide should be forced to find someone willing to do so. It also recommended that publicly funded facilities, like hospices and hospitals, should be forced to kill patients or help them commit suicide, even if groups operating the facilities object.6

The federal government cannot do this because the regulation of health professions and health care institutions is within provincial jurisdiction. Hence, the Committee urged the federal government to “work with the provinces” to implement this coercive regime.6 Translation: get willing hands in the provinces to do the dirty work of coercion – and take the heat for it.

Now, the federal government can prevent such coercion because it has exclusive jurisdiction in criminal law. It can enact a law to prevent powerful groups, professions, or state institutions from forcing people to be parties to homicide and suicide. It can prevent those in power from punishing health care providers who refuse to arrange for their patients to be killed or helped commit suicide.

The federal government can do this, but Bill C-14 does not do it. Instead, it makes possible the coercive regime recommended by the Special Joint Committee.

And this is deliberate, because the Prime Minister and Minister of Health know full well that coercion and intimidation to force participation in euthanasia and assisted suicide are already occurring in Canada, notably in Quebec7,8,9,10 and Ontario.11 ,Their bill “works with” willing hands in Ontario and Quebec by allowing coercion and intimidation to continue – and to spread.

It is true that the bill’s preamble states that the government will “respect the personal convictions of health care providers.”

But – aside from the fact that preambles have no legal effect12 – what is that worth?

After all, the Special Joint Committee claimed that respect for freedom of conscience is exemplified by their recommendation that, “at a minimum,” objecting physicians should be forced to find colleagues willing to kill their patients.6 Behind this Orwellian perversion lies the Committee’s more astonishing premise: that the state can legitimately order people to become parties to homicide and suicide, and punish them if they refuse.

That is outrageous, indefensible and dangerous. It is not a mere “limitation” of fundamental freedoms, but an egregious attack on them. It is a grave violation of human dignity that deserves only the utter contempt of a free people.

The Prime Minister and a great many people in positions of power and influence need to be reminded of this as we approach the deadline for the proclamation of Bill C-14: the anniversary of the Allied landings at Normandy.

Whatever else it might decide about euthanasia and assisted suicide, parliament should make it the law of the land that no one and no institution in Canada can be forced to be a party to homicide or suicide, and no one will be punished or disadvantaged for refusing to do so.”13


S.T. Murphy, Administrator

1. Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying) (Accessed 2016-04-20) (Hereinafter “Bill C-14”).

2. “’Under this bill, no health care provider will be required to provide medical assistance in dying,’” Health Minister Jane Philpott told reporters Thursday. Laucius, J. “Groups worry new assisted-dying legislation doesn’t protect physicians’ consciences.” Ottawa Citizen, 14 April, 2016 (Accessed 2016-04-14) Emphasis added.  The statement does not mean that health care providers cannot be forced to become parties to homicide or suicide.

3. Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 5 (Accessed 2015-06-27)

4. Medical Assistance in Dying: A Patient-Centred Approach. Report of the Special Joint Committee on Physician Assisted Dying (February, 2016) (Hereinafter “SJC Report”) p. 13-14; Recommendations 3,4, p. 45. (Accessed 2016-03-09).

5. Bill C-14, Preamble, final paragraph.

6. SJC Report, Recommendations 10-11, p. 36.

7. Supreme Court of Canada, 385591, Lee Carter, et al. v. Attorney General of Canada, et al. (British Columbia) (Civil) (By Leave): Robert W. Staley (Counsel for the Catholic Civil Rights League, Faith and Freedom Alliance, and Protection of Conscience Project) Oral Submission, [455:48/491:20].

8. Canadian Press, “Gaétan Barrette insists dying patients must get help to ease suffering.” CBC News, 2 September, 2016 (Accessed 2016-04-20).

9. Robert Y. “L’objection de conscience.” Collège des médecins du Québec, 10 November, 2015. (Accessed 2016-04-20).

10. The Canadian Press, “Justin Trudeau, Philippe Couillard hail era of co-operation after meeting in Quebec City: Prime Minister praises Quebec’s approach on controversial topic of medically-assisted deaths.” CBC News, 11 December, 2015 (Accessed 2016-04-15).

11. College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, Interim Guidance on Physician Assisted Death (January, 2016) (Accessed 2016-04-15).

12. University of Alberta, Centre for Constitutional Studies, The Constitution: Preamble (Accessed 2016-04-15).

13. Submission of the Protection of Conscience Project to the Special Joint Committee on Physician Assisted Dying (31 January, 2016)