UN Censures Italy for High Number of Doctors Who Won’t Perform Abortions

Breitbart

Thomas D. Williams

The Human Rights Committee of the United Nations has censured Italy for failing to provide ready access to abortion throughout the country due to a “high number of physicians” who refuse to carry out the procedure for reasons of conscience.

In its recently released report on Italy (2017), the UN Committee specifically names conscience objection as an obstacle to insuring the availability of abortions throughout the predominantly Catholic nation.

In a section devoted to “voluntary termination of pregnancy,” the Committee notes its concerns over “reported difficulties in accessing legal abortions owing to the high number of physicians who refuse to perform abortions for reasons of conscience and their manner of distribution across the country.” . . .[Full text]

 

 

Doctors being ‘bullied’ over assisted suicide, legislators told at Bill 84 hearings

The Catholic Register

Michael Swan

Doctors are being bullied, silenced and coerced in a pro-euthanasia environment which is forcing those who object to medically assisted suicide to provide an effective referral for patients who wish to die, provincial legislators were told during hearings into Bill 84.

Oncologist Dr. Ellen Warner told an all-party committee that physicians . . . are “being bullied” and are experiencing a “horrendous stress level.” She described colleagues who object to assisted suicide speaking in code and using alternative email addresses to discuss doctor-assisted death. . . Hamilton Dr. Jane Dobson held back tears as she described the pressure she’s faced since the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario ruled that doctors who have a moral, ethical or religious objection to assisted dying must nevertheless provide an “effective referral” for the procedure. . . [Full text]

Religious coalition backs doctors’ conscience rights battle at Queen’s Park

The Catholic Register

Register Staff

A coalition of Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders has sent an open letter to all 107 Ontario MPPs urging them to work together and “find a pathway that respects the rights of medical professionals, facilities and patients.”

The letter was sent March 27 as committee hearings were underway regarding Bill-84, which will regulate medically assisted dying in Ontario.

The coalition urges MPPs to amend the Bill to include conscience protection for doctors and other health-care workers who oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, and to follow the Alberta model to create a “care coordination service” that provides patient access to assisted dying without requiring a direct doctor referral. . . .[Full text]

 

Open letter to all the Members of Provincial Parliament of Ontario on conscience rights

News Release

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

An open letter has been sent to the members of Ontario’s Provincial Parliament by His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, together with a number of other religious leaders, asking the Government of Ontario to enshrine into law the protection of conscience rights for health-care practitioners in Ontario who refuse to participate in the administering of euthanasia. The open letter was released on 27 March 2017 with respect to provincial Bill 84 (Medical Assistance in Dying Statute Law Amendment Act). The Coalition of HealthCARE and Conscience have also developed a resource which explains the current problem with Ontario’s proposed euthanasia legislation and the lack of conscience protection rights.

The Ontario Government’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs held a public hearing on this matter this past 23 March. Cardinal Collins, the Most Reverend Ronald P. Fabbro, Bishop of London and President of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario, and Dr. Moira McQueen, Director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, were present during the hearing and provided an oral presentation advocating for conscience rights. Several doctors and nurses were also present advocating for legislation to protect conscience rights.

The Archdiocese of Toronto released a video today of Cardinal Collins explaining the moral issues at hand in relation to conscience rights in Ontario and Bill 84.


Link to the resource by the Coalition of HealthCARE and
Conscience (PDF)

Canadian surgeons harvesting organs from euthanised patients

BioEdge

Michael Cook

March 29, 2017 (BioEdge) — Taking advantage of the country’s new law, Canadian transplant surgeons have harvested organs from dozens of euthanasia patients. According to the National Post, 26 people in Ontario who died by lethal injection have donated tissue or organs. This involved mostly corneas, skin, heart valves, bones and tendons.

The National Post’s report only covered Ontario. Bioethicists, Transplant Quebec and an ethics committee of the Quebec government in Quebec argued last year that euthanasia could be a good source of organs, so it is quite possible that similar procedures have been carried out in that province as well.

“If we accept people can make decisions to end life, and we accept the idea of cardiac death being sufficient for organ donation, this should be acceptable,” Dr James Downar, of Dying with Dignity Canada, told the Post, to allay fears that patients could be pressured into donating organs.

Oddly enough, this is a topic which did not emerge in discussions about euthanasia before the Supreme Court legalised it in 2015. An influential report by a Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel did not even mention it, for instance, nor the Supreme Court’s decision in Carter vs Canada.

Coordinating organ transplants with euthanised donors has been going on for several years in Belgium and the Netherlands. About 40 cases in the two countries have been reported. Last year Dutch physicians at the Maastricht University Medical Center and the Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam published a multidisciplinary manual for the complex procedure.

A recent article in the Impact Ethics blog by Professor Jennifer A. Chandler, of the University of Ottawa, pointed out that combining organ donation with euthanasia could lead to some tricky issues in ethics, law and conscientious objection:

• What if a patient seeks euthanasia to direct his donation to a family member? The potential for abuse is obvious.

• What if a next-of-kin is asked to approve organ donation after a person has been euthanised but has left no instructions?

• What if the transplant surgeon has a conscientious objection to the procedure? Should he be forced to do it?

• What if a recipient objects to receiving an organ from a euthanised patient?


This article is published by Michael Cook and BioEdge under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation to BioEdge. Commercial media must contact BioEdge for permission and fees.

 

Appeal to sound medicine, not conscience rights: expert

Defenders of life called to polish arguments for the right to life

BC Catholic

Deborah Gyapong

U.S. physician and theologian is warning appeals to conscience rights may no longer be effective because they appear to pit physicians against their patients.

Instead, defenders of conscience rights must polish their rhetorical arguments in defence of good professional judgment and sound medicine, said Dr. Farr Curlin March 16. He was giving the annual Weston lecture sponsored by Augustine College.

A palliative care physician and co-director of the Theology, Medicine and Culture Initiative at Duke University in Raleigh, NC, Curlin has been called as an expert witness in the case of five Ontario doctors who are challenging the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario’s policy that would force physicians to make effective referrals on abortion, euthanasia, and other procedures they may find morally objectionable.

“The policy is outrageous and unprecedented,” Curlin said. “It’s also incoherent.” . . . [Full text]

 

Abortion decriminalisation and statutory rights of conscience

BMJ Opinion

Mary Neal

On 13 March 2017, the House of Commons voted by 172 to 142 in favour of a second reading for the Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill. The bill, introduced by Diana Johnson MP, would decriminalise abortion until the end of the 24th week of pregnancy, meaning that abortion could be performed until the end of the 24th week of pregnancy without the need to satisfy any statutory grounds, or to obtain two doctors’ authorisation. Many campaigners see this bill as a first step toward the longer-term goal of fully decriminalising abortion. [1]

The prospect of decriminalisation raises a number of interesting and important issues, including an issue which has been neglected in the debates over decriminalisation so far, namely what any change in the law might mean for the right of health professionals to withdraw from participation in abortion on grounds of conscience, under section 4 of the Abortion Act 1967. . . .[Full text]

 

Cardinal urges Ontario gov’t not to ‘bully’ doctors into helping euthanize patients

Lifesite News

Pete Baklinski

TORONTO, March 24, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Doctors who refuse to kill a patient “need protection so that they can act according to their conscience,” Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, told the Ontario legislature on Thursday.

“It is sad that I and others need to come before you today to urge you to protect these devoted healers from the punishment which they face if they refuse either to administer a lethal injection to their patients or, in effective referral, to arrange for that injection to be administered,” he told Ontario’s Standing Committee on Finance & Economic Affairs. . . . [Full text]

 

Naturopath doctor argues for conscience rights protection

The Catholic Register

Michael Swan

A naturopath stole the show as hearings began into Ontario’s enabling legislation for doctor assisted suicide at Queen’s Park on March 23.

Conscience rights aren’t primarily about religion, but rather about the convictions of citizens and the obligation governments have to respect and protect citizens and their convictions, Dr. Nora Pope told members of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs.

“I won’t refer for killing because I don’t believe in killing,” Pope told legislators as she pleaded for an amendment to Bill 84 to protect the conscience rights of medical practitioners. . . [Full text]

 

Constitutional lawyers debate conscience rights

BC Catholic

Deborah Gyapong

Legal experts squared off in a debate on physicians’ conscience rights March 16 in a debate hosted by the University of Ottawa’s law school.

Albertos Polizogopoulos, representing five Ontario doctors challenging Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeon policies requiring effective referral on procedures such as abortion and euthanasia, argued for conscience rights. He argued Section 2(a) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides such protection. . .

 

Queen’s University Senior Contracts Negotiator Ricardo Smalling argued physicians’ conscience rights must be balanced with the rights of patients who are seeking care in their “weakest” moments.

Highlighting the “subjective nature of conscience,” Smalling said eliminating conscientious objection “is the only way to ensure there is a predictable framework that guarantees a patient’s health care.” . . . [Full text]