CMA doctors hail Supreme Court mandate ruling, decry ongoing targeting of faith community

News release

Christian Medical Association

Washington, DC – June 30, 2014 – The 15,000-member Christian Medical Association (CMA, www.cmda.org), the nation’s largest and oldest faith-based doctors’ organization, today praised the Supreme Court’s ruling in two Health and Human Services (HHS) Obamacare mandate cases but noted “increasing attempts by the government to coerce the faith community.” CMA had outlined the medical aspects underlying religious objections to the HHS Obamacare mandate in its friend of the court brief in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood v. Sebelius.

CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens said in a statement, “We are very thankful that the Supreme Court acted to protect family businesses from government coercion and fines for simply honoring the tenets of their faith.

“This is a much-needed victory for faith freedoms, because this administration continues its assault on the values of the faith community. We are witnessing increasing attempts by the government to coerce the faith community to adopt the government’s viewpoint in matters of conscience,” noted Stevens.

CMA also filed a friend-of-the-court brief in another Supreme Court case this term, McCullen v. Coakley, to defend First Amendment free speech and assembly rights of pro-life advocates against a Massachusetts law that prohibited many citizens from entering a public street or sidewalk within 35 feet of an abortion facility.

“There seems to be growing intolerance of the faith community by some government officials who appear to want to extinguish the First Amendment freedoms that allow for a diversity of values,” Stevens observed, “We are seeing this antagonism expressed in coercive government mandates enforced with harsh penalties and discriminatory practices that threaten to eliminate the faith community from the public square.”

Dr. Stevens noted that the Obama administration recently launched another sweeping mandate that appears to target faith-based groups, requiring agreement with same-sex marriage as a condition of receiving federal grants. CMA’s Freedom2Care website (www.Freedom2Care.org) details other violations of faith and conscience rights:

ACLJ: Supreme Court Issues “Landmark Decision Protecting Religious Freedom and Freedom of Conscience”

News release

American Center for Law and Justice

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a pro-life legal organization that focuses on constitutional law, said today the Supreme Court issued a “landmark decision protecting religious freedom and freedom of conscience” in a 5-4 decision striking down the constitutionality of the ObamaCare HHS mandate, ruling that closely-held corporations cannot be required to provide contraception coverage for their employees.

“This is a landmark decision protecting religious freedom and freedom of conscience,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. “The court clearly recognized that closely-held corporations enjoy religious liberty rights just as they enjoy rights to free speech. American citizens do not lose their religious freedom when they form a corporation and try to live out their religious values in the conduct of their business. Moreover, the court – by holding that closely-held corporations cannot be forced to directly subsidize abortion-pills – dealt a severe blow to the Obama Administration’s ongoing assault on religious liberty and represents a significant setback to the abortion industry.”

The ACLJ filed an amicus brief urging the high court to reject the ObamaCare HHS mandate arguing that the mandate not only imposes “a very real and palpable injury” to those business owners affected but “substantially burdens their religious exercise” as well.

The ACLJ currently represents 32 individuals and corporations in seven pending actions against the government, including two cases currently pending before the high court. The ACLJ has obtained preliminary injunctive relief for its clients in all seven cases. Further, the ACLJ has represented 79 Members of Congress, filed more than a dozen amicus briefs, and stood up for hundreds of thousands who oppose the mandate.

Led by ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the ACLJ is based in Washington, D.C. and is online at www.aclj.org.

MEDIA  CONTACTS:
For Print: Gene Kapp (757) 575-9520

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Calgary doctor refuses to prescribe birth control due to personal beliefs

CTVNews.ca

Marlene Leung

A Calgary doctor who will not prescribe birth control because she says it goes against her personal beliefs has triggered outrage among patients.

Dr. Chantal Barry will not prescribe birth control pills due to her religious beliefs. When Barry is working as the lone walk-in physician at the Westglen Medical Centre in southwest Calgary, a sign is put up telling patients that they will not be able to get a prescription for contraception that day.

When Joan Chand’oiseau saw the sign, she was shocked and outraged by the policy, which she says is judgemental.

“It contains overt judgement of my choices and my reproductive health,” she told CTV Calgary. “I think that affects everyone in that clinic, regardless of whether or not they’re visiting that doctor.” . . . [Full text]

The doctors’ declaration of faith

The Economist

A.H.

THE scene had a melodramatic touch: two stone tablets with an engraved Declaration of Faith by Polish doctors who recognise “the primacy of God’s laws over human laws” in medicine were carried last month to a sanctuary in Częstochowa, in the south of Poland. The gesture was made out of gratitude for the canonisation of the Polish pope, John Paul II. It was the initiative of a physician and personal friend of the late pope, Wanda Półtawska.

The first 3,000 signatories of the declaration thereby announced that they will not violate the Ten Commandments by playing a part in abortion, birth control, in-vitro fertilisation or euthanasia. Abortion until the 25th week of pregnancy is legal in Poland if the mother’s life is in grave danger, the foetus is known to have severe birth defects or the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest.

Poland has 377,000 doctors and nurses so the signatories represent barely 1% of the medical profession. And among them are many students, dozens of dentists, four balneologists and a dance therapist (number 1805 on the leaked list). . . . [Full text]

Should doctors have the right to refuse to treat a patient?

The Globe and Mail

Kelly Grant

Canada’s largest medical regulator is reviewing its policy on physicians and the human rights code, a document that wrestles with a thorny question: When can a doctor refuse to treat a patient on religious or moral grounds?

The review by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) is a regularly scheduled revisiting of the policy, which was last updated amid controversy in 2008.

But the checkup also comes a few months after word spread online and in the mainstream media of a form letter distributed by three Ottawa doctors who declined to prescribe birth control because of their “religious values,” a rare example of physicians openly refusing – in writing – to provide services for religious reasons.

In another case that surfaced this week, a Calgary woman posted to Facebook a picture of a sign on the door of a walk-in clinic that read: “Please be informed the physician on duty today will not prescribe the birth control pill,” although the sign did not explain why. . . [Full text]

Assisted suicide and euthanasia bill proposed in Australian Senate

Medical Services (Dying with Dignity) Exposure Draft Bill 2014

A bill to legalize physician assisted suicide and euthanasia has been proposed to the Australian Senate by Green Party Senator Richard di Natale.  Since it is an “exposure draft” it is not in the queue for passage. It includes provisions that provide protection for medical practitioners who refuse to provide the services for “any reason.”  However:

  • The objects of the Act set out in Section 3 do not include the protection of conscientious objectors;
  • The definition of “dying with dignity medical service” in Section 5 includes
    • euthanasia
    •  assisted suicide
    • providing information
  • Since Section 5 is broadly written, it appears that the attending medical practitioner can delegate the act of euthanasia to someone else.
  • Section 11(2)a states that a medical practitioner may refuse to provide euthanasia or assisted suicide “for any reason,” which would include reasons of conscience or religion, but
    • the section pertains only to medical practitioners
      • so it does not protect objecting pharmacists or other health care workers
    • Section 11(2)a does not state that medical practitioners may refuse to facilitate euthanasia or assisted suicide throught referral
  • Section 21 precludes coercion of objecting medical practitioners, but
    • does not preclude coercion of other objecting health care workers, and
    • can be understood to prevent hospices or denominational hospitals from enacting policies against euthanasia and assisted suicide
  • Section 24 provides protection from civil and criminal liability and disciplinary proceedings for medical practitioners who refuse to provide euthanasia and assisted suicide, but
    •  does not clearly offer similar protection to objecting practitioners, since refusing to provide euthanasia or assisted suicide cannot be said to be an omission “for the purposes of the Act,” which are specified in Section 3, and
    • offers no protection at all for other objecting health care workers.
  • There is no provision to protect persons who object to euthanasia for reasons of conscience from discrimination in education or employment.

Doctor on duty ‘will not prescribe the birth control pill,’ reads sign at Calgary walk-in clinic

National Post

Manisha Krishnan

CALGARY – A doctor at a Calgary walk-in clinic is refusing to prescribe birth control due to her personal beliefs.

Dr. Chantal Barry will not prescribe contraception, a receptionist at the Westglen Medical Centre confirmed. Patients looking for birth control are provided a list of other offices in the city that prescribe it.

Westglen only has one doctor available to walk-in patients at any given time, so a sign at the facility’s front desk reads, “The physician on duty today will not prescribe the birth control pill.”

“I was shocked and outraged,” said Joan Chand’oiseau, 45, who saw the sign while attending an appointment with her gynecologist Tuesday. Ms. Chand’oiseau immediately posted a photo of the sign on Facebook, prompting angry responses from several of her friends.

“I don’t think her belief system should have any part in my reproductive health,” she said.

Under the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta’s policy on Moral or Religious Beliefs Affecting Medical Care, doctors can refuse to provide medical services, but must ensure the patient is offered timely access to those services from another practitioner. . . [Full text]

Euthanasia rulings in Europe stir right-to-die debate

CTV News

The Associated Press

PARIS  — One French court acquitted a doctor of poisoning seven terminally ill patients while another ordered physicians to suspend treatment for a comatose man, while Britain’s top court said the country’s ban on assisted suicide may be incompatible with human rights.

The decisions of the past few days are fueling the arguments of Europeans who say the duty of doctors is to end the suffering of those beyond treatment.

But emotions run high on all sides around the issue of euthanasia and assisted suicide, as is shown by the bitter case of the comatose Frenchman, Vincent Lambert. Hours after the French court sided with his wife in ordering an end to treatment, the European Court of Human Rights blocked the move at the request of his parents, in a rare late-night ruling. . . [Full text]

Virginia’s compulsory vasectomy

Bioedge

Michael Cook

A Virginia petty criminal has been sentenced to 20 months in prison, three years supervised probation and two years unsupervised probation – and a vasectomy. Twenty-seven-year-old Jessie Lee Herald pleaded guilty to child endangerment, hit and run driving and driving on a suspended license. But it was for none of these that assistant prosecutor Ilona L. White imposed the condition of a vasectomy as part of the plea bargain.

“It was primarily due to the fact he had seven or eight children, all by different women, and we felt it might be in the commonwealth’s interest for that to be part of the plea agreement,” she explained.

He has also agreed not to reverse the vasectomy – which is difficult, in any case – as long as he is on probation.

The quirky conditions of Herald’s sentence, which went viral on the internet, provoked much commentary. It was called “temporary negative eugenics” at Jezebel and at Slate “reproductive coercion“.

Perhaps Ms. White lacks a sense of history, or she would have sensed the irony of compulsory sterilization in Virginia. In 2002, the 75th anniversary of a notorious Supreme Court decision, Buck v. Bell, Virginia Governor Mark Warner publicly apologized for the state’s past involvement in eugenics. He said, “The eugenics movement was a shameful effort in which state government never should have been involved.”

Carrie Buck was a young woman whom the commonwealth of Virginia wanted to sterilise because she came from bad stock. The case went all the way to the US Supreme Court, which ruled, in an 8-1 decision, against Ms. Buck. The majority ruling was written in 1927 by the legendary Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., whose imperishable argument was:

It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Three generations of imbeciles are enough.

After nearly a century, perhaps the commonwealth of Virginia has come full circle in its attitude toward eugenics. Except that now, two generations seem to be enough.


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Right-to-die already weighing on Quebec’s conscience

 New law has hospitals, doctors grappling with old fears, new moral burdens

Toronto Star

Allan Woods

MONTREAL—Quebec passed a landmark euthanasia law earlier this month meant to end the agony in the final days of a terminal patient’s life. But the legislation has lumped the province’s medical community with an existential burden it is only now confronting.

Doctors are weighing their consciences against their looming legal responsibilities to dying patients. It’s not entirely clear which one will win the day.

“I’ve been working in clinical ethics as a physician for 24 years and this is going to be one of our biggest challenges,” says Dr. Eugene Bereza, director of the centre for applied ethics at Montreal’s McGill University Health Centre.

The process that led to Bill 52, the so-called Medical Aid in Dying legislation, was wrenching enough in a society where the government, school and hospitals were a proxy for the Catholic Church not two generations ago. . . . [Full text]