Doctors, midwives revolt over mandatory abortions

Legal center files complaint with U.N. over requirement to participate

World Net Daily

Bob Unruh

A formal complaint has been submitted to the United Nations against Sweden over its practice of requiring physicians and others to perform abortions.

While there was an uproar in the United States and a successful court challenge to President Obama’s plans to require people to pay into a fund for abortions, in Sweden officials have carried the mandate much further, according to the complaint submitted by the European Center for Law and Justice.

Director Gregor Puppinck wrote to Heiner Bielefeldt, special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, at the office of the high commission on human rights at the U.N.

The victims are represented by several named midwives, doctors and pediatricians, he explained. . . [Full text]

Does an Illinois bill threaten doctors’ conscience rights? Depends on whom you ask

Catholic News Agency

Matt Hadro

Springfield, Ill., May 29, 2015 / 03:13 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- An Illinois bill that some say threatens the conscience rights of medical providers is currently under consideration in the state’s general assembly.

Catholics and pro-lifers are divided among themselves over the implications of SB 1564 for the conscience rights of medical providers.

While the state’s Catholic Conference is neutral on the bill, the Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom states that it “would force medical facilities and physicians who conscientiously object to involvement in abortions (and other procedures) to refer for, make arrangements for someone else to perform, or arrange referral information that lists willing providers, for abortions.” . . . [Full text]

 

Illinois controversy about legislative overreach

 Catholic bishops withdraw opposition, others remain opposed

Confrontation centres on complicity

Sean Murphy*

 Introduction

Among American states, Illinois has the most comprehensive protection of conscience legislation, the Health Care Right of Conscience Act (HCRCA). In 2009 an attempt was made to nullify the Act with respect to abortion, contraception and related procedures by introducing HB 2354 (Reproductive Health and Access Act), but the bill died in committee two years later.1 Now it appears that the HRCA may be changed by Senate Bill 1564. Critics say the bill tramples upon physician freedom of conscience,2 while the bill’s supporters, like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), claim that the bill is “about making sure no one is withholding information from the patient.”3

SB 1564 was actually drafted by the ACLU,3 but it was introduced by Illinois Senator Daniel Biss. He said that the amendments were partly in response to the case of a woman who was miscarrying over several weeks, but who was refused “diagnosis or options” in the hospital where she had sought treatment.4  Senator Bliss was apparently referring to the story of Mindy Swank, who testified before a Senate legislative panel about her experience.  The Illinois Times reported that she suffered “a dangerous, weeks-long miscarriage” because of the refusal of Catholic hospitals to provide abortions.5

Unfortunately, the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee does not record or transcribe its hearings, and conflicting news reports make it difficult to determine exactly what happened at some critical points in her story.  Moreover, it appears that the Committee did not hear from the hospitals and physicians who were involved with Ms. Swank, so we are left with a one-sided account of what took place.6

Nonetheless, as a first step in considering the particulars of the bill and the controversy it has engendered, it is appropriate to review the evidence offered to support it.  We will begin with Mindy Swank’s testimony, even if some details are lacking, and then examine the experience of Angela Valavanis, a second case put forward by the ACLU to justify SB 1564.7  [Full Text]

Norton to ensure public hospitals offer abortion services

Stabroek News

Staff Writer

Minister of Public Health Dr George Norton has committed to making abortion available at all public health facilities in Guyana.

“The law says that it is a woman’s right to have a medical termination of a pregnancy if she so desires. It is therefore the government’s duty to provide that facility,” Norton told Stabroek News on Thursday.

Norton stressed that this commitment is not him personally advocating anything but simply fulfilling the mandate of his ministry. . . [Full text]

 

Doctors wrestle with role in assisted suicide

Huge ethical problem. Crisis of conscience. Religious conflict.

Chronicle-Herald

Mary Ellen MacIntyre

Like doctors across this country, those who practise medicine in Nova Scotia wonder what the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision on physician-assisted death will mean to them.

“The silence from the (federal) government has been deafening and the province is waiting for Ottawa,” said Dr. Gus Grant, speaking to the 20th annual meeting of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia on Friday.

Grant, the organization’s registrar and CEO, told the gathering that physicians must take part in discussions on how the new law will affect their practice and their treatment of patients. . . [Full text]

 

Colombia’s bishops seek conscience protection in wake of euthanasia directives

Communicado de la Comisión Permanente de la Conferencia Episcopal de Colombia

Statement of the Permanent Committee of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia

(Extract)

 . . . La Iglesia Católica quiere ahora reiterar, a través de la voz de sus pastores, su firme desaprobación a este grave extravío ético y moral. Consideramos gravísimo que derechos fundamentales, como el derecho a la vida, a la libertad de conciencia o a la libertad religiosa, consagrados en nuestra Carta Magna, sean injustamente restringidos por organismos que deberían ser garantes de la Constitución y de los derechos de los colombianos. . . . The Catholic Church now wants to reiterate, through the voice of its pastors, its firm disapproval of this serious ethical and moral loss. We consider it very serious that fundamental rights, such as the right to life, freedom of conscience or religious freedom, enshrined in our Constitution, are unjustly restricted by organizations that should be guarantors of the Constitution and of the rights of Colombians.
Como Iglesia Católica, siempre respetuosa del ordenamiento jurídico como base fundamental de la sociedad, solicitamos al Gobierno que, en los diversos campos sociales, entre ellos el de la salud, garantice a nuestras instituciones el poder desarrollar su labor en pleno acatamiento de sus propios valores e ideales. . . As a Catholic Church, always respectful of the legal system as the fundamental basis of society, we ask the Government, in the various social fields, including health, to guarantee our institutions to develop their work in full compliance with their own values and ideals. . .

[Full text]

Project advisor awarded honour by state of Indiana

Dr. Shahid Athar receives Golden Hoosier Award

Dr. Shahid Athar, who has been an advisor to the Project from its inception, has received the state of Indiana’s Golden Hoosier Award.

Indiana has annually honoured selected senior citizens for their lifetime of service and commitment to their communities since 2008. The Golden Hoosier Award is considered one of the highest honours given by the State of Indiana to senior citizens.

Dr. Athar was nominated by Pastor Jerry Zehr and Razzi Nalim.  The award citation states:

Dr. Shahid Athar serves his community as a volunteer physician for Indianapolis’s homeless, HIV patients and other individuals who may not be able to afford medical treatment.  In addition, he serves as a board member for the Protection of Conscience Project, St. Vincent Ethical Committee, and the Islamic Medical Association of North America.  Most notably, Dr. Athar is known for his advocacy of interfaith as a way to overcome terrorism and to help Hoosier Muslims deal with the negative fallout of the attacks on September 11, 2001.  Dr. Athar is highly regarded among his peers and his community.  Whether he is providing professional medical care for the needy, or presenting on interfaith, he always leads by example and with compassion for others.  His generosity has left a lasting impression on Hoosiers of all faiths.

The term “Hoosier” means a resident of Indiana.

New Hampshire protection of conscience bill fails to pass

Right on vote, wrong on reason

Seacoastonline (Letter)

Tracy Emerick

My appreciation to Mr. Desrosiers’s May 12, 2015, letter to the editor about my vote on HB 670 titled, “Health Care Freedom of Conscience Act.” The bill came out of committee as ITL (Inexpedient To Legislate) so my “no” vote was in fact supporting the bill against the negative report from the committee. Mr. Desrosiers is also correct that my position is that no one should be forced to violate their conscience defined in the bill: “Conscience” means the religious, moral, or ethical principles held by a health care provider, a health care institution, or a health care payer. Mr. Desrosiers also correctly stated that the primary issues being addressed, but not by name, are abortion and fetal stem cell procedures. . . [Full text]

 

In Illinois, Bishops and Pro-Life Groups Differ on ACLU Conscience Bill

National Catholic Register

Peter Jesserer Smith

Both parties don’t like the pro-abortion-rights organization’s bill, but the Illinois Catholic Conference is standing neutral while local pro-life groups campaign against it in the state legislature.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A battle is under way over conscience rights and health care in the Illinois Legislature that has pro-life groups on one side, the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood on the other, and the Illinois Catholic Conference standing neutral on the sidelines.

The ACLU of Illinois has proposed a change to Illinois’ broad legal protections for the conscience rights of health-care workers with S.B. 1564, which has already passed the state senate, but whose defeat the pro-life groups are urging in the state house.

If health-care facilities or personnel decline to provide services for reasons of conscience — such as abortions or sterilizations — the bill’s protocols would require them either to make referrals for such services or to provide information about other places where they are likely to be available. [Full Text]

An Open Letter to the Illinois Legislature

The state should vote down a bill that would trample on citizen conscience rights

National Review

Robert P. George

To the members of the Illinois Legislature:

I understand that you are considering passing SB 1564, a bill to amend the existing laws of Illinois that protect freedom of conscience. I urge you not to do so, as SB 1564 fatally weakens the conscience rights of Illinois citizens.

SB 1564 would amend existing law to, among other things, add a new section regarding “access to care and information protocols.” This section would require “health care facilities, physicians, and health care personnel” who are opposed for reasons of conscience to performing an abortion to, nevertheless, “refer, transfer, or give information . . . about other health care providers who they reasonably believe may offer . . . the . . . service,” which includes abortion. In so providing, SB 1564 violates elementary notions of conscience protection.. . [Full text]