Statement of Catholic Citizens of Illinois on SB#1564, Health Care Right of Conscience Act

From the Board of Directors of Catholic Citizens of Illinois

In an act of insufferable arrogance, the Illinois Senate has passed SB#1564.  The bill purports to require all “medical personnel” who don’t provide abortion “services” to refer their patients to someone who does.  The bill continues to undergo amendments.

But amendments can’t cure the problem. The bill is intended to require Catholic “medical personnel” to act against their religious convictions, and thus an inexcusable and unacceptable attempt to coerce consciences.

Catholics do not derive our consciences from the Illinois General Assembly.  Freedom of Religion, the first freedom enshrined in the First Amendment, and in the Illinois Constitution, prohibits the government from violating our unalienable right not to be coerced in matters of faith. The right to freedom of religion is a human right, conferred on us by our Creator, and not by the Federal Government, the State of Illinois or even by our religious authorities.

Some state that they are “neutral” towards the bill.  But for Catholics, “neutrality” in the face of an intrinsic evil is never an option.  Just one year after the Roe v. Wade decision, in 1974, the Vatican issued the Declaration on Procured Abortion which described “abortion and infanticide as abominable crimes.”  Pope Paul VI, speaking on many occasions declared this teaching “unchanged and unchangeable.”

More recently, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI reaffirmed long standing Catholic theology which denounces abortion as “intrinsically evil” and therefore “non-negotiable.”

And in Evangelli Gaudium, his most recent Apostolic Exhortation, citing Saint John Paul II, Pope Francis stated that:

“[T]his defense of unborn life is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development. Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems. Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defense of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be. Reason alone is sufficient to recognize the inviolable value of each single human life, but if we also look at the issue from the standpoint of faith, “every violation of the personal dignity of the human being cries out in vengeance to God and is an offence against the creator of the individual”[1]

Specifically applied to the field of health care, Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, our Catholic Bishops teach that:

1.Catholic care organizations are not permitted to engage in immediate material cooperation in actions that are intrinsically immoral, such as abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide and direct sterilization.

2. The possibility of scandal must be considered when applying the principals governing cooperation.[2] Cooperation which in all other respects is morally licit may need to be refused because of the scandal that might be caused.[3]

Given these long-settled Catholic precepts, how could any Catholic, in good conscience, comply with a law that our faith and our leadership teaches is immoral?

The answer is obvious: those advocating for this legislation know that we cannot.

[1] John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici (30 December 1988), 37: AAS 81 (1989), 461, at http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html#_ftn176

[2] See: Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil (no. 2284): “Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads other to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged.” (no. 2287).  http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P80.HTM

[3] Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, Fifth Edition. http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/upload/Ethical-Religious-Directives-Catholic-Health-Care-Services-fifth-edition-2009.pdf

http://catholiccitizens.org/views/statement-of-catholic-citizens-of-illinois-on-sb1564-health-care-right-of-conscience-act/


 

Morals in medicine

 Senate passes “right of conscience” bill after harrowing testimony

Illinois Times

Patrick Yeagle

Mindy Swank of Chicago grew up in a conservative household – both religiously and politically – so when her pregnancy went wrong, it was a difficult decision to have an abortion.

She and her husband, Adam, were excited to have their second child, she told an Illinois Senate legislative panel at the Capitol in March, but their doctors informed them the child likely wouldn’t survive. Having the child, they were told, could hurt Mindy’s ability to have future children and possibly endanger her life. Instead of receiving the abortion, however, Mindy endured a dangerous, weeks-long miscarriage.

Mindy told her story to the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee on March 17, testifying about a bill that could have prevented her ordeal. The bill passed the full Senate on April 23 and awaits a vote in the House. . . [Full text]

Illinois Senate approves health-care conscience update

Chicago Business

(AP) — A measure requiring physicians to spell out a patient’s options even if they’re objectionable to the doctor has received Senate approval.

The 34-19 vote sends to the House the plan by Evanston Democratic Sen. Daniel Biss. It would change a 1977 law that allows health care providers to refuse to perform medical procedures they find morally objectionable. . . [Full Text]

 

Your morality, my mortality: conscientious objection and the standard of care

Camb Q Healthc Ethics. 2015 Apr;24(2):214-30. doi: 10.1017/S0963180114000528.

Ben A. Rich

Abstract

Recently the scope of protections afforded those healthcare professionals and institutions that refuse to provide certain interventions on the grounds of conscience have expanded, in some instances insulating providers (institutional and individual) from any liability or sanction for harms that patients experience as a result. With the exponential increase in the penetration of Catholic-affiliated healthcare across the country, physicians and nurses who are not practicing Catholics are nevertheless required to execute documents pledging to conform their patient care to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Health Care Services as a condition of employment or medical staff privileges. In some instances, doing so may result in patient morbidity or mortality or violate professional standards for respecting advance directives or surrogate decisionmaking. This article challenges the ethical propriety of such institutional mandates and argues that legal protections for conscientious refusal must provide redress for patients who are harmed by care that falls below the prevailing clinical standards. [Full text]

 

Bill would make Catholic hospitals tell patients about options elsewhere

Chicago Tribune

Manya Brachear Pashman

Angela Valavanis, shown with her children Ariana, 5, left, and Dylan, 23 months, and husband Stel, learned minutes before Dylan’s delivery that her hospital would not be able to provide the tubal ligation she had requested months earlier in the event of a cesarean section because the procedure would violate Catholic teachings.

A measure before Illinois lawmakers would require Roman Catholic hospitals to tell patients they can go elsewhere for birth control, certain medical procedures and other health care choices that violate church teachings.

The proposal would amend the state’s Health Care Right of Conscience Act, which generally allows workers and institutions to deny services for religious and ethical reasons. And while it would apply to all hospitals in Illinois, it’s particularly relevant for Catholic hospitals, which handle more than 1 in 4 admissions statewide. . . [Full text]

Conscience and Community: Understanding the Freedom of Religion

Responding to Protections and Applications of the First Amendment Today

Georgetown University,
Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs
Cornerstone
Reproduced with permission

Richard Garnett*

“Religion,” said Justice William Douglas in his Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972) opinion, is “an individual experience.” The opinion was a partial dissent, and this statement is partially correct. But, it does not tell the entire story.  Many “religious experiences” are those of monks, mystics, and prophets – and of salesmen, coaches, teachers, and cops. But, many are also of peoples and tribes and congregations. As Justice Douglas’s colleague, Justice William Brennan, insisted in Corporation of the Presiding Bishop v. Amos (1987), “[f]or many individuals, religious activity derives meaning in large measure from participation in a larger religious community. Such a community represents an ongoing tradition of shared beliefs, an organic entity not reducible to a mere aggregation of individuals.” [Full Text]

Agreement reached on conscience rights

Catholic Conference of Illinois

Last month, we posted about an attack on the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act in the form of Senate Bill 1564.

The Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act allows medical personnel and health care facilites to avoid participating in medical procedures — such as abortion, sterilization, and certain end-of-life care — that violate their beliefs and values.

The original form of Senate Bill 1564 easily passed a Democratic-led Senate committee on a 7-3 vote.

The Catholic Conference of Illinois and the Illinois Catholic Health Association worked to modify this bill to protect the conscience protections of doctors, hospitals, and health care facilities. The original  form of Senate Bill 1564 mandated referrals and had a section stating that if there is a delay in the provision of health care there is no conscience right. We could not allow that to happen, especially since the sponsor of the legislation had the votes to pass SB 1564 in its original form after it had passed committee.

We reached an agreement with the bill’s sponsor that reflects the current medical practices in Catholic hospitals. Catholic health care ethicists and Catholic hospital lawyers participated in the negotiations.

We are now taking a neutral stance regarding Senate Bill 1564. A neutral stance means that we neither support nor oppose the bill.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE AMENDED SB 1564 REQUIRES NO ONE TO TELL PEOPLE WHERE ABORTIONS CAN BE OBTAINED.

Alabama House Bill 491 (2015)

Health Care Rights of Conscience Act

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT

Relating to health care, to allow health care providers to decline to perform any health care service that violates their conscience and provide remedies for persons who exercise that right and suffer consequences as a result. [Full text]

Tunnel vision at the College of Physicians

National Post

Sean Murphy

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has adopted a policy requiring physicians who have moral or ethical objections to a procedure to make an “effective referral” of patients to a colleague who will provide it, or to an agency that will arrange for it. In 2008, amidst great controversy, the Australian state of Victoria passed an abortion law with a similar provision.

After the law passed, a Melbourne physician, morally opposed to abortion, publicly announced that he had refused to provide an abortion referral for a patient. This effectively challenged the government and medical regulator to prosecute or discipline him. They did not. The law notwithstanding, no one dared prosecute him for refusing to help a woman 19 weeks pregnant obtain an abortion because she and her husband wanted a boy, not a girl.

They obtained the abortion without the assistance of the objecting physician, and they could have done the same in Ontario. College Council member Dr. Wayne Spotswood, himself an abortion provider, told Council that everyone 15 or 16 years old knows that anyone refused an abortion by one doctor “can walk down the street” to obtain the procedure elsewhere.

So why did the College working group that drafted the demand for “effective referral” urge College Council to adopt a policy that so clearly has the potential to make the College look ridiculous? . . .[Full text]

Canadian medical schools readying doctors to talk to patients about assisted suicide

National Post

Sharon Kirkey

Canada’s medical schools are preparing for what was once unimaginable — teaching medical students and residents how to help patients take their own lives.

As the nation moves toward legalized physician-assisted death, Canada’s 17 faculties of medicine have begun to consider how they will introduce assisted dying into the curriculum for the next generations of doctors.

It is a profound change for medical educators, who have long taught future doctors that it is immoral to end a life intentionally.

“If legislation passes, and if it becomes a standard of practice in Canada for a small subset of patients who desire assisted death, and where all the conditions are met, would we want a cadre of doctors that are trained in the emotional, communicative and technical aspects of making those decisions, and assisting patients,” said Dr. Richard Reznick, dean of the faculty of health sciences at Queen’s University in Kingston. “We would.” . . . [Full text]