Global Charter of Conscience published

A Global Charter of Conscience has been drafted and published, introduced by the following explanation:

Freedom of conscience underpins many of the other human rights that we all enjoy. This is why the right to express your belief is enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, this freedom is being marginalised.

The Global Charter of Conscience will bring religious tolerance back to the centre of public debate, and it will help future generations engage freely in the public life of their nation.

The Charter has been drafted by people of many faiths and none, politicians of many persuasions, academics and NGOs, all committed to a partnership on behalf of “freedom of thought, conscience and religion” for people of all faiths and none.

British Medical Association affirms stand against euthanasia

Despite claims that 80% of the British population supports euthanasia and assisted suicide, and that 40% of physicians do so, the British Medical Association has voted against supporting a euthanasia bill being proposed in the Scots parliament.  Strong views were expressed by those on opposite sides of the issue. [The Scotsman]

U.S. Supreme Court upholds federal health care reform law

A ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act, the federal health care reform law that is the basis for the controversial “contraceptive mandate” being forced on employers by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The decision does not deal with the mandate itself.

Objecting guard, Sheriff can be sued for refusing morning after pill to prisoner

A federal judge in Tampa, Florida has ruled that a rape complainant who was a prisoner can sue the Hillsborough County Sheriff because a guard, citing religious belief, refused to give her a prescribed morning after pill.  The complainant was arrested on an outstanding warrant when she made a complaint of rape.  She had taken one of two prescribed pills, but the second was seized with her effects when she was jailed, and the guard refused to provide it when she asked for it [Courthouse News][Ruling 13 June, 2012]. The judge had previously ruled that the guard could be sued.

Fortnight for Freedom begins in USA

Catholics in the United States are being asked by their bishops to participate in a “Fortnight for Freedom” in defence of freedom of conscience and religion.  The fortnight runs from 21 June, 2012 (the eve of the feast of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher) to 4 July, 2012.  The Catholic Association is among the groups that has proposed an action plan for the event.  The National Catholic Partnership on Disability has also posted suggestions.

CMA Physicians Compare HHS Position on Births to China’s in Comments Filed Opposing Contraceptives Mandate

NEWS RELEASE

Christian Medical Association

WASHINGTON, June 18, 2012 /Standard Newswire/ — The 16,000-member Christian Medical Association (CMA) has filed official comments opposing as “unlawful, unprecedented, unwise and un-American” a U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) rule that forces virtually all health insurance plans in the country to provide free contraceptive pills, devices and surgeries on demand regardless of users’ ability to pay.

The CMA document deplores the fact that “The administration is instituting a decidedly un-American policy that (a) classifies pregnancy as a disease requiring mandated treatment and (b) advocates the prevention of child-bearing as a health care cost savings. Unlike communist leaders in countries like China, Americans historically have not viewed pregnancy as a disease or children as an unwelcome product posing a cost burden.”

The comments of CMA and other groups were filed with HHS before the June 19 deadline for public comments on the rule, which has generated nationwide protests over what opponents consider a frontal assault on religious freedom, since the rule does not exempt most religious employers who object to the drugs on moral grounds.

CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens noted, “The contraceptives and sterilization mandate affects all people no matter what their faith is, and it is an attack on our first and most precious rights. Religious freedom and respect for conscience are among the most important issues that all people of faith face. This is a battle we dare not lose.”

CMA Executive VP Dr. Gene Rudd added, “While researchers continue to debate whether certain mandated drugs labeled as contraceptive may actually end the life of a developing human embryo, the mandated drug Ella almost certainly has such a post-fertilization effect; it’s the only way to explain the effectiveness rates claimed for the drug. What we have learned during this debate over the potential abortifacient nature of certain contraceptives is that those with a social agenda will deceive to achieve.”

The Christian Medical Association document asserted that the HHS mandate is unlawful and unprecedented in that it violates abortion-related provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the law under which the mandate is enacted), federal laws protecting conscience rights and constitutional protections for religious liberty and just compensation.

CMA also noted that besides violating constitutional religious liberties, the mandate also “offers no accommodation options whatsoever to protect secular conscientious objectors.”

The CMA comments conclude, “The administration retains only two realistic options regarding this unlawful, unprecedented, unwise and un-American policy: rescind the policy or face defeat in the courts. The CMA encourages rescission of this policy in its entirety.”

Contact: Margie Shealy, VP for Communications, Christian Medical & Dental Associations, 423-844-1047; www.Freedom2Care.org

Nursing homes in Swiss canton to be forced to accept assisted suicide

A plan put forward by the parliament of the Swiss canton of Vaud to oblige nursing homes to accept assisted suicide has been approved by the electorate.  The new law is supported by associations of Vaud nursing homes and physicians.  It specifies that the applicant must be suffering from an incurable illness or injury and be of sound mind.  The voters rejected an alternative proposal that would have given nursing home residents an unconditional right to assisted suicide. [swissinfo.ch]  It does not appear that a rejection of both positions in favour of a ban on assisted suicide was considered, nor does it appear that there was a discussion of the possibility of conscientious objection.

Canadian judge strikes down law against physician assisted suicide, voluntary euthanasia

Madam Justice Smith of the British Columbia Supreme Court has struck down sections of the Criminal Code prohibiting physician assisted suicide and euthanasia, given the Government of Canada one year to draft a law allowing the procedures, and granted a woman with ALS a “constitutional exemption” that will allow her to have a court authorize assisted suicide or euthanasia in her case in the interim. [Ruling] [Project review of ruling]

Catholic Health Association now opposes contraceptive mandate

The Catholic Health Association of the United States, which first responded favourably to a claim by the Obama administration that it would accommodate religious objectors, has now formally stated its opposition to the plans to force employers to provide health insurance for contraception, embryocidal drugs and devices and sterilization.

Quebec to consider allowing euthanasia and assisted suicide

Quebec Minister of Health Yves Bolduc and Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Quebec, Jean-Marc Fournier have announed that a committee of legal experts will be formed to determine how to allow assisted suicide and euthanasia in the province, though the procedures are criminal offences in Canada. [LifeSite News]