Arizona Strengthens Conscience Protections for Health Care Providers

New law aims to ensure doctors and nurses aren’t fired for their beliefs if assisted suicide is ever legalized in the state.

National Catholic Register

PHOENIX — Health care providers and institutions opposed to assisted suicide gained more legal protections under a new Arizona law that aims to help ensure doctors and nurses aren’t fired for their beliefs if the practice is ever legalized.

Senate Bill 1439 was “an important rights-of-conscience bill,” according to the bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference.

“S.B. 1439 will help protect health care providers not wanting to participate in services causing the death of their patients,” the state’s four bishops said March 24, adding they were grateful that it has become law. . . [Full text]

 

On Medical Conscience and Assisted Suicide, Good News from Vermont and Maine

Evolution News & Science Today

Wesley J. Smith

With the attacks on medical conscience increasing, here’s some fine news. Alliance Defending Freedom has successfully obtained a consent decree that protects doctors in Vermont from having to counsel about assisted suicide to legally qualified patients if they are morally or religiously opposed. From the decree:

Plaintiffs and similarly situated medical providers do not have a legal or professional obligation to counsel and refer patients for the Patient Choice at End of Life process [e.g., assisted suicide].

That’s good. . . [Full text]

 

Medical Assistance in Dying — Implementing a Hospital-Based Program in Canada

Abstract
After Canada legalized medical assistance in dying (MAiD), the University Health Network in Toronto implemented a hospital-based MAiD program. UHN offers a framework for assessing patients for and providing MAiD while respecting the rights of patients and staff.

 


Madeline Li, M.D., Ph.D., Sarah Watt, Marnie Escaf, H.B.B.A., M.H.A., Michael Gardam, M.D., Ann Heesters, M.A., Gerald O’Leary, M.B., and Gary Rodin, M.D. Medical Assistance in Dying — Implementing a Hospital-Based Program in Canada. N Engl J Med 2017; 376:2082-2088 May 25, 2017 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMms1700606

Conscientious objection “not an issue” in management of euthanasia/assisted suicide in Canadian hospital

Physician-Assisted Dying: Most Patients Have Cancer

Medscape

Roxanne Nelson, BSN, RN

Last year, Canada joined a small but growing number of countries and US states in legalizing physician-assisted dying.

A new paper, reporting on the experience to date at a large healthcare system in Toronto, Ontario, found that three quarters of patients inquiring about the program had cancer, and for various reasons, only 26% actually received the intervention.

The paper is published online May 25 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The degree to which physician-assisted dying has become “normalized,” both in their network and throughout Canada, “was unexpected,” especially considering the degree of controversy that preceded passage of the law, note the authors. . . [Full text]

 

Pro-life medics being forced to choose between career or conscience

Christian Institute

Pro-life medics in the US are ‘under attack’, an academic has warned.

Author and bioethicist, Wesley J. Smith, said medics who are morally opposed to abortion and assisted suicide may soon be forced to choose between “their careers and their convictions”.

He made the comments in an article for First Things, an influential journal of religion and public life.

‘Morally opposed’

In support of his case, he highlighted work published in the New England Journal of Medicine which described abortion as “a standard obstetrical practice” and “not medically controversial”.

Smith said: “The authors take an absolutist position, claiming that personal morality has no place in medical practice.”

He went on to highlight several examples where doctors are being forced to refer patients for abortion and assisted suicide “even if they are morally opposed”. . . . [Full text]

 

Ontario and Manitoba: A Tale of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide in Two Provinces

News Release

Catholic Civil Rights League

Toronto, ON May 23, 2017 – How can governments in two provinces come to such opposite conclusions?

As assisted suicide spreads its nefarious presence across the country, provincial governments in two provinces have moved in opposite directions when it comes to recognition of the Charter right of freedom of conscience and religion of healthcare professionals in dealing with the practice.

In Ontario, on May 9, two days prior to the March for Life in Ottawa, Bill 84 passed at third reading 61-26. The new law received royal assent on May 10, and the self-reporting regime of assisted suicide has now been enacted, without any additional provision for clarification of conscience rights of doctors or healthcare workers. In thousands of letters and petitions, and despite the significant majority of in person submissions to the legislative committee studying the bill, the enshrinement of clear conscientious protections was denied.

Last week, a private members bill from Ontario MPP Jeff Yurek, to stipulate such conscience recognition, likewise faced defeat at the hands of the ruling provincial Liberal government.

This same government will send its lawyers next month to oppose a court challenge of the rulings of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), which enacted a requirement that objecting physicians provide an effective referral to patients seeking death, or other morally repugnant treatment demands.

In Manitoba, Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen introduced Bill 34 on May 16, legislation to provide for assisted suicide in that province, with specific provisions to protect doctors and healthcare professionals from having to participate, or refer, or face disciplinary proceedings for exercising their rights to conscience. “The legislation will protect the rights of those who do not wish to participate in a medically assisted death for conscience, faith or other reasons,” he told the legislative assembly.

The proposed Manitoba bill allows for an individual to be protected from disciplinary or employment repercussions for refusing to participate in assisted suicide requests, in full recognition of the importance of the personal convictions of the healthcare provider. Bill 34 further prohibits a provincial regulatory body from requiring healthcare professionals from participating in assisted suicide.

The Ontario law also suppresses data collection regarding medically assisted suicides, a position opposed by the Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, and the CCRL, in the legislative committee hearings.

Several doctors who presented their positions at the Ontario legislative committee made absolutely clear their opposition to the imposition that assisted suicide would have on their practices, in particular those involved in palliative care. The experience of other jurisdictions has shown that demands for pain management, or palliative care resources, decrease when assisted suicide becomes an available course of action.

We now observe that when it comes to conscience rights, Ontario stands alone in greasing the wheels of assisted suicide requests.

About the CCRL

Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. The CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization with a large nationwide membership base. The CCRL is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.

For further information:

Christian Domenic Elia, PhD CCRL Executive Director
416-466-8244
@CCRLtweets

How to End a Life

A year since assisted suicide became legal, only a small number of physicians are willing to perform the procedure, and their numbers are shrinking. Taking a life is harder than they thought

Toronto Life

Nicholas Hune-Brown

The first thing April Poelstra noticed was the hitch in her father’s shoulder. Jack’s left arm was drooping, hanging limply at his side, as if he didn’t have the muscle to cinch it into alignment. It was the fall of 2015, and Jack was living in Frankville, Ontario, waking up at 4:30 a.m. to plow roads and work odd jobs for a construction company. . . Jack tried to downplay his shoulder problems. He visited his doctor for a battery of tests, but always changed the subject when April pressed for details. . . .In early 2016, her fears were validated: Jack was diagnosed with ALS. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease . . .On June 17, Bill C-14 became law, making medical assistance in dying, or MAID, legal for mentally competent Canadians. Jack Poelstra was overjoyed. . . [Full text]

 

Victory for Vermont health professionals after pro-suicide group drops appeal

Compassion & Choices withdraws appeal of court decision that affirmed pro-life physician groups aren’t mandated to counsel, refer for assisted suicide

News Release

Alliance Defending Freedom

RUTLAND, Vt. – A pro-suicide group has dropped its appeal of a federal court’s decision which affirmed that a Vermont law can’t be interpreted to require pro-life health professionals to counsel or refer patients for assisted suicide. As a result, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit officially dismissed the appeal Monday, thus ending the case.

The withdrawal of the appeal by Compassion & Choices leaves in place a consent agreement between physician groups and the Vermont Attorney General’s office, which agreed that the court was correct in deciding that the state’s Act 39 does not force conscientious professionals to ensure all “terminal” patients are informed about the availability of doctor-prescribed death.

“Vermont health care workers just want to act consistently with their reasonable and time-honored convictions without fear of government punishment,” said ADF Senior Counsel Steven H Aden, who argued before the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont in November of last year in Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare v. Hoser. “Conscientious Vermont healthcare professionals are in agreement with the state that the law doesn’t force them to participate in this heinous process, and they are pleased that the nation’s foremost advocate of assisted suicide, Compassion & Choices, has abandoned its effort to force them to do so.”

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and ADF-allied attorney Michael Tierney represent the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare and the Christian Medical and Dental Association, groups of medical professionals who wish to abide by their oath to “do no harm.”

Act 39, Vermont’s assisted suicide bill, passed with a very limited protection for attending physicians who don’t wish to dispense death-inducing drugs themselves, but state medical licensing authorities construed a separate, existing mandate to counsel and refer for “all options” for palliative care to include a mandate that all patients hear about the “option” of assisted suicide. For that reason, the groups representing pro-life health professionals filed suit.

The court ruled that the groups lacked a legal right to bring the lawsuit because the law actually doesn’t force them to act contrary to their conscience—a finding that Compassion & Choices initially opposed. The dismissal of the appeal leaves Vermont healthcare professionals free to “do no harm” without fear of retaliation for their pro-life views.


Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

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Additional resources: Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare v. Hoser

Scroll down to view additional resources pertaining to this case and its surrounding issue.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Previous news releases:

  • 2017-04-05: Vt. health professionals planning next legal steps after decision on conscientious objection to providing suicide info
  • 2016-11-07: Health professionals to court: Don’t allow Vermont to force us to help kill patients
  • 2016-09-26: Health professionals ask court to stop Vermont from forcing them to help kill patients
  • 2016-07-20: Vermont health professionals: Don’t force us to help kill our patients

 

Let’s Expand the Scope of Conscience Protection

Evolution News and Science Today

 Wesley J. Smith

As I have written here and elsewhere, attacks on medical conscience are proliferating, and the ground is being prepared to strip doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and others of the ability to practice their professions under the principles of Hippocratic ideals.

I suspect that if the Left ever again takes control of the government, conscience rights will come under even more concerted attack than is currently happening. I mean, they tried to force nuns to provide contraception in the order’s health insurance.

A bill was introduced in Congress to strengthen existing conscience protections. Called the Conscience Protection Act of 2017, . . . but the legislation, as written, is far too narrowly drawn. The pending crisis of medical conscience extends far beyond abortion. . . [Full text]

 

Why is Ontario forcing docs to participate in euthanasia?

Toronto Sun

Editorial

From the beginning of the debate over the now legal medical procedure of medically assisted dying, politicians have simply assumed doctors would do it.

Why? Why assume all doctors (and nurses) would be comfortable with this burden?

Especially since the medical professionals most likely to encounter requests for euthanasia would be those devoted to palliative care, to giving their patients as good a quality of life as possible in the final stages of life.

Canada’s assisted dying law does not require doctors to provide medically assisted death personally.

But in Ontario, they must refer the patient to a doctor who will do it, known as effective referral, which many medical professionals say violates their conscience rights not to participate in the euthanasia process. . . [Full text]