Protection of Conscience Project launched

News Release

Protection of Conscience Project

When the Markham-Stoufville Hospital in Ontario tried to force health care workers to assist in abortion, eight nurses stood their ground. One of them died during the five years it took for the case to reach a human rights tribunal.  The hospital settled the case on the eve of the hearing, agreeing to financial compensation and a policy statement protecting rights of conscience.

For vindication of freedom of conscience, five years is too long too wait, thousands of dollars in legal fees too much to pay.  It is past time to put an end to coercive conduct by employers, educational authorities and others who demand freedom of choice except for those who don’t share their moral outlook.

The Protection of Conscience Project supports authentic freedom of conscientious choice for everyone.  It is a non-denominational, non-profit group of individuals consisting of a project team and advisory board, operating a website at  http://www.consciencelaws.org.

The Project

  • advocates for protection of conscience legislation;
  • provides information on protection of conscience legislation worldwide;
  • promotes clarification and understanding of the issues involved to assist in reasoned public discussion;
  • acts as a clearing house for reports from people who have been discriminated against for reasons of conscience.

The Markham-Stoufville case concerned abortion.  What about euthanasia, physician assisted suicide, and demands for access to reproductive technologies?

“Without proper legislation,” warned Maurice Vellacott, M.P., speaking to the issue in the House of Commons, ” there may come a day where no physician feels free from coercion to violate his or her conscience.”

Student pressured to participate in abortion

Saskatchewan, Canada

In speaking to the protection of conscience bill he introduced in the Canadian House of Commons, Mr. Maurice Vellacott told the House about an encounter he had had with one of his constituents, a student who was under some duress to participate in abortion. [Full text]

Conscience Legislation for health care workers to be debated in House of Commons

News Release

Ottawa — Bill C-207, which would protect health care providers, particularly nurses, from being forced to participate, against their wills, in abortion procedures or acts of euthanasia, will be debated in the House of Commons this week. Debate is currently scheduled for Thursday November 18 at 5:30pm.

The bill summary for C-207 (formerly designated C-461 during the last session of parliament) reads as follows: “This enactment protects the rights of health care practitioners and other persons to refuse, without fear of reprisal or other discriminatory coercion, to participate in medical procedures that offend a tenet of their religion, or their belief that human life is inviolable.”

In recent years there have been many nurses either refused employment or dismissed because     of their unwillingness to capitulate in the face of pressure to assist in abortions. Bill C-207 would remedy that situation. Unfortunately, after the bill is debated it will not be voted on, so that it has no chance of becoming law. This is because the Liberal-dominated sub-committee on Private Members Business chose not to make the bill votable.

The bill has now also been introduced in the Senate as Bill S-11 by Senator Raymond Perrault.

Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons challenged to think about conscience rights

News Releases

Canadian Physicians for Life

Canadian Physicians for Life calls on the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta to verify the alleged charges of women being bullied by pro-life physicians.

The tone of the statement from College Councillor Dr. Eugene Kretzul is patronizing and dismissive of the conscience rights of doctors. The “nudge-nudge, wink-wink” suggestion that morally troublesome issues need only be referred to a colleague is oblivious to the principled objections of pro-life physicians.  Increasingly exotic reproductive technologies may eventually offend even the most laissez-faire physicians. There may come a day where no physician feels free from coercion to violate his or her conscience.

The “pro-choice” Alberta College apparently lacks tolerance for physicians’ choice to be pro-life. The Code of Ethics of the Canadian Medical Association requires physicians to “inform a patient when their personal morality would influence the recommendation or practice of any medical procedure that the patient needs or wants.” The Alberta College suggests pro-life doctors go further: usher abortion requesters into the abortion-on-demand system or face the charge of being unprofessional.

In Alberta, as elsewhere, it is often easier for women to obtain an abortion than support and counseling services. For a woman to make a truly “informed decision” she must be presented with the embryology of her   unborn child so that she will know that she is aborting a human being, not just a clump of cells or a piece of her own tissues. She deserves more than the wave-through suggested by the College’s statement.

A number of studies report a close correlation between abortion, especially of a first pregnancy, and breast cancer. Are Alberta physicians telling abortion seekers of this threat to their health? Are women being informed of the risk of post-abortion emotional trauma? Are patients being warned that some physicians’ ardent pro-abortion beliefs bias the “counselling” process?

And if abortion seekers have complained of being bullied, has the College conducted diligent enquiries into such serious accusations? What was the outcome? Or is polemical hearsay the College’s new standard of evidence when the target is pro-life doctors?

In plain English, independent medical professionals have no duty to refer anyone to anyone when the referral would violate the conscience and the medical good judgement of the professional. This elementary conscience  protection impartially shields doctors who possess any convictions on any topic at all. Whether the request be for genital mutilation, the amputation of a healthy limb, or an abortion, the true professional will never be coerced into offending his or her basic principles. Canadian Physicians for Life calls on the Alberta College to retract and clarify its venture into professional conscience ethics.

Will Johnston, M.D.

Secretary-Treasurer

For further information
Canadian Physicians for Life Administration
Phone (604) 794-3772; Fax (604) 794-3960
Email: info@physiciansforlife.ca

Down the Slope to Infanticide

Nurses At Foothills Hospital Rebel Over The Horrifying Results Of Late-Term ‘Genetic Terminations’

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Marnie Ko

Genetic terminations unquestionably constitute murder in the minds of the Foothills nurses who contacted this magazine after hospital administrators demanded they assist with abortions. The nurses are backed by a February 26 administrative memo obtained by this  magazine which states that for Maternity Care Centre (MCC) staff, “not participating in terminations is not an option.”

At Calgary’s Foothills Hospital some premature infants are born alive, then routinely allowed to die. For instance, last  August a doctor told a mother-to-be that her baby suffered from lethal genetic defects. The mother was persuaded to undergo a “genetic
termination,” and a regularly used procedure called an induction abortion was performed only five weeks before the baby was due. Chemically induced labour was followed by a live birth. But because the mother had decided her child should not live, nurses were forbidden to provide even such basics as food and fluids. [Full text]

Nurses Triumphant! Human Rights Case Ends in Settlement

After a difficult five year struggle, eight Ontario health care professionals win the right to choose.

Markham-Stoufville, Ontario, Canada

Sue Careless*

Staff with religious objections will not be required to provide primary nursing care to a patient admitted for an abortion, but could be required to provide post-abortion nursing care. They would not, however, have to in any way participate “in the administration, monitoring or documenting of the pregnancy termination process.”

They did it!

After a five year battle, eight Ontario nurses won the right to refuse to assist in abortions at the Markham-Stoufville Hospital, just outside Toronto. The nurses had taken their fight to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and one nurse, Ailene George, had filed a civil suit.

They hope their victory will be precedent-setting. “I want all nurses in the future to have the right to say, “No,” said Joanne Van Halteren, one of the eight. “This will have a ripple effect.”

The case was to be heard by the OHRC, but the sides reached a mediated settlement April 13 in which the hospital issued a policy respecting the nurses’ religious objections to performing abortions.

. . . The nurses’ battle took its toll. One nurse, Ann Mahon, died of cancer in May 1998. Others suffered stress-related illnesses. Una Clennon had a lump removed from her breast that her doctor believed was brought on by stress. [Full text]

 

Personal Qualms Don’t Count

Foothills Hospital Now Forces Nurses To Participate In Genetic Terminations

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 Marnie Ko

 “The present mood is…chaotic, helpless, frustrated and highly emotional,” Sally wrote. In the past weeks, I have witnessed tears, breakdowns, illnesses, and stress such as never before…Sick calls have been high and experienced staff nearly impossible to recruit.”

 

Though the tiny infant had been condemned to die, distraught nurses at Calgary’s Foothills Hospital spent hours last August caring for it anyway.

“The mother didn’t want the baby, so we took turns rocking and holding it for 12 hours until it finally died,” says Foothills nurse “Catherine,” whose real name has been withheld to protect her job. “Nurses were only allowed to comfort the suffering infant, but this did not even include feedings.”

The rejected baby’s fate was sealed when it survived a “genetic termination,” an abortion performed only five weeks before the mother’s due date. Doctors had told her that her baby had lethal genetic defects. But Catherine could see only a baby. “I was sick for weeks,” she says. [Full text]