Catholic Medical Association Joins with 25,000 Physicians Fighting Proposed Global Abortion Policy to Strip Conscience Rights Protections

News Release

Catholic Medical Association

PHILADELPHIA, PA – FEBRUARY 12, 2018 – Conscience rights protections for health care providers in the U.S. and abroad are once again under attack. The World Medical Association (WMA) representing 10 million physicians worldwide is poised to approve a policy that would demand doctors refer for abortion, even against their conscience.

Although current federal statutes in the U.S. protect health care provider’s conscience rights and prohibit recipients of certain federal funds from discriminating against health care providers, WMA ethics policies greatly impact future regulations of the medical profession globally.

The WMA was founded in 1947 in response to Nazi atrocities during WW II. The organization promotes itself as “evaluating and codifying ethics in healthcare.” Currently the WMA policy requires doctors ensure continuity of care for patients who choose abortion, but not force doctors refer for the procedure. However, the WMA’s proposed revision threatens the conscience rights of all physicians and health care professionals by proposing the following amendment:

“Individual doctors have a right to conscientious objection to providing abortion, but that right does not entitle them to impede or deny access to lawful abortion services because it delays care for women, putting their health and life at risk. In such cases, the physician must refer the woman to a willing and trained health professional in the same, or another easily accessible health-care facility, in accordance with national law. Where referral is not possible, the physician who objects, must provide safe abortion or perform whatever procedure is necessary to save the woman’s life and to prevent serious injury to her health.”

The proposed changes in policy would also eliminate the provision that “requires the physician to maintain respect for human life.”

“We do not believe abortion is healthcare. The international impact on this global abortion policy is incalculable,” said CMA President Dr. Peter T. Morrow. “We join with the representatives of over 25,000 physicians, nurses, health care providers and patient advocates who provide excellent, scientific, ethical and moral healthcare in accordance with the principles of the Oath of Hippocrates. Collectively we request that the WMA’s revision be rejected, it is subversive of physician freedom of conscience concerning abortion in the short term, and euthanasia and assisted suicide in the long term.”

The American Medical Association (AMA) is an associate member of the WMA and can recommend rejections and or revisions.  The CMA supports conscience rights of all healthcare professionals with regards to abortion as well as physician assisted suicide, and is jointly sending a letter co-written by: American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Pediatricians, Christian Medical & Dental Associations, National Association of Catholic Nurses-U.S.A. and The National Catholic Bioethics Center to the AMA strongly denouncing the WMA’s proposed change forcing physicians to violate their conscience rights.

The WMA’s proposed changes could become a global policy. The general assembly is scheduled to vote in October.

Contact:

Susanne LaFrankie, MA
Diector of Communications
email: lafrankie@cathmed.org


The Catholic Medical Association is a national, physician-led community of over 2,400 health care professionals. CMA’s mission is to inform, organize, and inspire its members, to uphold the principles of the Catholic faith in the science and practice of medicine.

U.S. bishops, other Catholic groups back conscience protection bill

Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and 32 other organizations have signed a joint letter of support for the Conscience Protection Act of 2017.

The bill, which has House and Senate versions, is intended to close loopholes that ignore the conscience rights of medical professionals on abortion, according to the signed letter.

“Even many ‘pro-choice’ Americans realize that the logic of their (opponents’) position requires them to respect a choice not to be involved in abortion,” said the letter, dated Sept. 6 and addressed to senators. . . [Full text]

Forum on Conscience Protections

United States Congress Energy and Commerce Committee

Friday, July 8, 2016 – 9:00am

Location: 2123 Rayburn House Office Building

PARTICIPANTS

Marie-Alberte Boursiquot – M.D., F.A.C.P., President-elect of the Catholic Medical Association
Prepared remarks

William J. “Bill” Cox – President of the Alliance of Catholic Health Care
Prepared remarks

Cathy DeCarlo – Nurse, New York
Prepared remarks

Richard Doerflinger – Former Associate Director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Prepared remarks

Pastor Jim Garlow – Skyline Church, La Mesa, California
Prepared remarks

Donna J. Harrison, M.D. – Executive Director of the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Prepared remarks

Pastor Chris Lewis – Foothill Church, Glendora, California
Prepared remarks

Casey Mattox – Senior Counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom
Prepared remarks

Fe Vinoya – Nurse, New Jersey
Prepared remarks

Dr. Dave Weldon – former Member of Congress and author of the Weldon Amendment, which was written to provide protections for entities that do not participate in abortion
Prepared remarks

 

 

 

Court allows doctors to support hospitals, staff in ACLU suit that seeks to force them to commit abortions

Court grants ADF motion to allow pro-life physician groups to intervene in defense of Catholic hospital network

News Release

American Center for Law and Justice

American Civil Liberties Union v. Trinity Health Corporation: Several pro-life doctor groups have intervened in defense of a Catholic hospital system which the American Civil Liberties Union sued. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent the Catholic Medical Association, the Christian Medical and Dental Association, and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The ACLU’s lawsuit seeks to force Trinity Health Corporation and its staff to commit abortions regardless of their religious and pro-life objections. Trinity Health operates 86 facilities in 21 states.

Attorney sound bites:  Kevin Theriot | Matt Bowman

DETROIT – A federal court agreed Thursday to allow several pro-life doctor groups to intervene in defense of a Catholic hospital system which the American Civil Liberties Union sued last year. In December, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing the Catholic Medical Association, the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists asked the court to allow the groups to intervene.

On March 23, the court will hear arguments on whether to dismiss the ACLU’s lawsuit, which seeks to force Trinity Health and its staff to commit abortions regardless of their religious and pro-life objections. Trinity Health operates 86 facilities in 21 states.

“No American should be forced to commit an abortion,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “No law requires faith-based hospitals and medical personnel to commit abortions against their faith and conscience, and, in fact, federal law directly prohibits the government from engaging in any such coercion. In addition, the government can’t tie any funding to a requirement that hospitals and health care workers give up their constitutionally protected freedoms. We look forward to defending those freedoms in this case.”

“Those who doubt that anyone would ever try to force someone to commit an abortion need only look at this case,” explained ADF Senior Counsel Matt Bowman. “This is precisely what the ACLU is seeking to do. But forcing Catholic hospitals to perform abortions is not only against the law, it makes no sense at all. Patients should always have the freedom to choose a health care facility that respects life and to choose doctors who do not commit abortions.”

“Forcing health care workers to act contrary to the very faith and ethical convictions that led them into the medical profession—to serve, help, and bring healing to people—is counterproductive, unnecessary, and against the law,” Bowman added.

“Here, the Medical Applicants represent members that are affected by the policy directives of the Defendants’ hospitals on a daily basis,” wrote the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, in its order in American Civil Liberties Union v. Trinity Health Corporation. “The outcome of the litigation could have an effect on the day-to-day aspect of their duties as healthcare professionals. Accordingly, finding that the Medical Applicants are regulated by the policy directives at issue, the Medical Applicants are able to intervene as of right.”

  • Pronunciation guide: Theriot (TAIR’-ee-oh), Bowman, (BOH’-min)

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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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]

Opposition Mounting Against “Right of Conscience” Act

Alton Daily News, WBGZ radio

John Gregory

Anti-abortion groups are marshaling opposition to a bill which would amend the state’s Health Care Right of Conscience Act.  The bill to amend the law would require medical providers to provide information and referrals on treatment options they don’t provide based on personal beliefs, like abortion. State Rep. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) labels the bill as activism disguised as legislation.  “This is simply an intrusion on people of faith, people of conviction, and the Right of Conscience (Act), no one’s told me how it’s not working,” Sandack said. [Full text]

 

Doctor-ethicist sees ongoing efforts to weaken conscience protections

Boston Pilot

Peter Finney Jr.

NEW ORLEANS (CNS) — Fine print contained in the Affordable Care Act has weakened conscience protections for physicians who oppose abortion, sterilization or other medical practices on religious or moral grounds, a doctor and ethicist told the American Academy of Fertility Care Professionals.

Dr. John Brehany, executive director and ethicist of the Catholic Medical Association, said with the passage of the new health care law, commonly called Obamacare, “the federal government is posing real threats to faithful health care professionals.”

“While Obamacare itself does have a couple of conscience-protection provisions built in, the fact is, if you look at the big picture, which are the old federal laws and what was achieved from 1973 to 2004, we are now missing some important protections, and we are now vague on how these old laws will carry forward into the future,” Brehany said Aug. 10 during told the academy’s annual gathering in New Orleans. . . . [Full text]

U.S. Catholic Medical Association focuses on freedom of conscience

600 Catholic physicians attending a four day conference in St. Paul, Minnesota, were warned that they are practising medicine in an increasingly toxic culture and that even physicians who do not follow Church teaching may be forced to do things that they believe to be wrong.  Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa, California told the audience that “American Catholic physicians, have to wake up to the fact that they can no longer presume that their individual choices about how they practice medicine in this country will be respected.”  John Brehany, the CMA’s executive director, described the current situation in the United States as a “very dangerous crisis.” [NCR]

American Catholic Medical Association questions offer of accommodation

The Catholic Medical Association states that the proposed accommodation being offerd by the Obama administration to employers who object to providing insurance coverage for surgical sterilization, contraceptives, and embryocidal drugs “appears to fall far short of addressing the fatal flaws in the original rule.”  [CMA news release]

 

Catholic Medical Association provides comment on HHS defintion of religious employer

Bala Cynwyd, PA — On August 1, 2011, the Secretary of HHS effectively mandated that abortifacients, contraceptives, and sterilization be offered and subsidized by all insurance plans and issuers, and proposed to exempt only a narrow  set of “religious employers,” using a definition supplied by the ACLU  and recognized in only 3 states. Today, the CMA submitted comments to  HHS, criticizing this mandate and HHS’s draconian approach to respect for religious freedom.