The Clash of Universalisms: Religious and Secular in Human Rights

The Hedgehog Review
Fall, 2007

Abdulaziz Sachedina, PhD.*

The major thrust of Islamic critique of the Declaration, however, is its secularism and its implied hostility to divergent philosophical or religious ideas. . . Perhaps the sore point in the secular human rights discourse, as far as Muslim theoreticians of rights language are concerned, is the total dismissal of anything religious as being an impediment to the modern development of human rights. . . .
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Vivisectionist recalls his day of reckoning

Doctor put conscience on hold until war atrocity confession time came

The Japan Times

Jun Hongo

Donning the crisp, Imperial Japanese Army khakis gave Ken Yuasa a sense of power, as a superior being on a mission to liberate China from Western colonialism.

“The uniform made me feel incredibly sharp. Once I put it on, I was convinced Japan would triumph,” recalled the wartime surgeon, who was deployed to Changzhi (then Luan) in Shanxi Province in February 1942.

His fervor, and the nationalist indoctrination of his schooling, quickly subordinated any sense of conscience. By his second month at Luan’s army hospital, Yuasa was aggressively performing vivisections on live Chinese prisoners, and diverting dysentery and typhoid bacillus to Japanese troops for use in biological warfare.

“I was in denial of the things I did in Luan until the war was over. It was because I had no sense of remorse while I was doing it,” Yuasa, 90, told The Japan Times in a recent interview.

“We believed that the orders from the top were absolute. We performed the vivisections as ordered. We erased any sense of culpability by doing so, even though what we did was horrendous.” [Full text]

 

Reconciling principles and prescriptions: Do pharmacist refusal clauses strike the appropriate balance between pharmacists’ and patients’ rights?

University of Illinois Law Review Vol. 2007 No. 4, 1329-1360

Sarah Tomkowiak   

Conclusion: When a woman and her physician decide that a prescription for con-traception is in her best health interests, legal, professional, and ethical obligations should prevent a pharmacist from being able to effectively override that determination. The right of a pharmacist to abide by her moral or religious principles when faced with a prescription that goes against those principles is an important right to protect. However, this right should never be allowed to infringe on a patient’s right to access birth control, an equally important right that has significant implications for the majority of American women’s reproductive health. Pharmacist refusal clauses acknowledge pharmacists’ right to refuse at the expense of women’s right to access contraceptives, inappropriately reconciling these rights. Griswold v. Connecticut may be forty years old, but the is-sues debated before the Supreme Court then have risen anew today, this time behind the pharmacy counter. Following in the footsteps of the Griswold Court, we must now reaffirm that women have the right to make their own family planning decisions, including the decision to use contraception. Legislatures, pharmacy boards, pharmacies, pharmacists, and patients must work together to put the needs of patients back where they belong—as the first priority of the pharmacy profession. [Full Text]

Achieving transparency in implementing abortion laws

Int J Gynaecol Obstet. (2007) 99, 157-161

Rebecca J. Cook, JN Erdman, Bernard M. Dickens

Abstract:

National and international courts and tribunals are increasingly ruling that although states may aim to deter unlawful abortion by criminal penalties, they bear a parallel duty to inform physicians and patients of when abortion is lawful. The fear is that women are unjustly denied safe medical procedures to which they are legally entitled, because without such information physicians are deterred from involvement. With particular attention to the European Court of Human Rights, the UN Human Rights Committee, the Constitutional Court of Colombia, the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal, and the US Supreme Court, decisions are explained that show the responsibility of states to make rights to legal abortion transparent. Litigants are persuading judges to apply rights to reproductive health and human rights to require states’ explanations of when abortion is lawful, and governments are increasingly inspired to publicize regulations or guidelines on when abortion will attract neither police nor prosecutors’ scrutiny.[Full Text]

The Ever-Expanding Health Care Conscience Clause: The Quest for Immunity in the Struggle Between Professional Duties and Moral Beliefs

34 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 779, 816 n.237 (2007) 

Maxine M. Harrington

Introduction:  During the past few years, the debate over whether health care professionals should be required to provide services that conflict with their personal beliefs has focused primarily on pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions.1 According to one media account, during a sixmonth period in 2004 there were approximately 180 reports of pharmacists refusing to dispense routine or emergency oral contraceptives. 2 This controversy, however, extends beyond the pharmacy into every facet of the heath care system. . .[Full Text]