1 May, 2014
Covering the period from 1 March, 2014 to 30 April, 2014
1. By Region/Country
Visit the Project News/Blog for details.
A controversy has developed in Queensland, Australia, over the refusal of
some parents to have their children vaccinated. Although media reports
refer to "conscientious objection," it appears that the term is being
applied much more broadly to encompass those who refuse vaccinations because
they are concerned about side effects or doubtful about their efficacy.
The Canadian Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Journal published
article in late 2013 about the moral distress suffered by a Catholic
nurse who witnessed the death of a newborn infant. The baby was allegedly
starved to death in a neonatal intensive care unit at a Toronto hospital.
Upon posting the article, the Project Administrator sent this information to
the Toronto Police Service, which later acknowledged receipt of the
The Council of Europe's Committee of Social Rights has
upheld a complaint by the International Planned Parenthood Federation
that too many doctors in Italy refuse to provide abortions. Italian Law 194
includes a protection of conscience
provision, and, depending on the region, between 70% and 95% of
obstetricians refuse to perform the procedure. The campaign against
the law includes
demands that no one unwilling to provide abortion should be accepted as
a medical student. Those defending the law say there is little demand
for abortion in Italy, and that this is shown by the fact that non-objecting
physicians perform an average of less than two abortions a week throughout
the country. The statistics, however, are subject to other
interpretations. The law's critics claim that an increase in
spontaneous abortions (miscarriages) reflect increasing recourse to
clandestine abortion, some of which are alleged to be performed by
physicians who can be bribed to do privately what they refuse to do
A battle over a "Reproductive Health Law" (RH Law) that has been ongoing
for years led to a showdown in the Supreme Court of the Philippines that has
resulted in a ruling
that supports freedom of conscience among health care workers. Of the
15 Supreme Court judges:
- 11 held that the mandatory referral provision in the law was an
unconstitutional violation on freedom of conscience;
- 10 of the 11 also ruled that forcing an objecting health care
worker to provide "complete and correct information" about contraception
was a violation of freedom of conscience
- The eleventh judge held that this was not, but added that the
provision could not be used to suppress the freedom of objecting
health care workers to express professional or other opinions
The manager of the Specialist Hospital Pro-Familia in Rzeszów,
Poland, has demanded that a midwife retract public statements made about the
performance of abortions at the hospital and pay 50,000 złotych
(approximately $17,000) for a children’s hospice, or face legal action. The
midwife had spoken publicly about the trauma she experienced when ordered to
participate in abortions at the hospital. [LifeSite
Sweden's Equality Ombudsman has dismissed a complaint of
discrimination lodged by midwife Ellinor Grimmark, who was denied employment
because she refused to assist in abortion. The Ombudsman
ruled, in effect, that
abortion was part of the job description of a midwife, and Grimmark's
beliefs were irrelevant to the decision to refuse to hire her.
three part series
about the proposed Quebec euthanasia law (Bill 52: An Act respecting end-of-life care) has been translated
into Turkish and published in volume 14 of the Comparative Current
Criminal Law Series by Özyeğin University in Istanbul.
67 doctors found by the Care Quality Commission to have illegally signed
blank abortion forms were referred to the General Medical Council by the
commission, but none will be disciplined, suspended, or struck off.
Commenting on the case, the Project Administrator said, "It remains to be
seen if the General Medical Council will take the same approach if
confronted by a complaint about a physicians who refuse to refer patients
for abortion or other morally contested procedures for reasons of
Pennsylvania State Representative Gordon Denlinger has
given up a plan to amend the state constitution to ensure freedom of
conscience for citizens who refuse to provide services for reasons of
conscience or religion.
A bill concerning the regulation of genetic counselling in Virginia has
been enacted with the original protection of conscience provision intact
after an attempt by the state governor to weaken the bill.
The Washington State Department of Health has posted a
web page that lists all of the hospitals in the state, together with
their policies on admission, non-discrimination, end of life care, and
reproductive health care.
On 25 March, the United States Supreme Court began
hearing oral arguments in
Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and
Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius, two cases challenging the
controversial HHS birth control mandate. Meanwhile, two Catholic
dioceses in Georgia have been granted permanent injunctions barring the federal
government from enforcing the mandate against them. In Oklahoma,
200 Catholic employers filed a suit against the federal government seeking
the same kind of protection.
2. News Items
You can search news items by date, country and topic in the
3. Recent Postings
Project article on Quebec euthanasia bill published in Turkish
Conscientious objection to
about 3-parent embryos and get ready for "multiplex parenting"
Entrenching a 'duty to do
wrong' in medicine
Dilemma - A Case Study on Moral Distress: Newborn infant starved
to death in Toronto hospital
Therapeutic homicide in a neonatal unit?
The Mary Dilemma: Case Study on Moral Distress
Virginia conscience clause re: genetic counselling
Genetic screening to improve intelligence
Canadian assisted suicide/euthanasia bill lacks protection of
Supreme Court of the Philippines supports freedom of conscience
Refusals of vaccinations in Australia
Swedish midwives must provide abortions even if they object
American veterans dying while on secret wait list: a question of
The Hippocratic "oath"
(Some further reasonable hypotheses)
4. Action Items
The Project will post notices of conferences
that are explore and support the principle freedom of conscience, including the
legitimate role of moral or religious conviction in shaping law and public
policy in pluralist states or societies.
6. Publications of Interest
Brody H, Leonard SE, Nie J-B, Weindling P.
Responses to Japanese Wartime Inhuman Experimentation after World War II:
National Security and Wartime Exigency." Cambridge Quarterly of
Healthcare Ethics / Volume 23 / Issue 02 /
April 2014, pp 220-230
N.Juth, N. Lynöe. "Zero
tolerance against patriarchal norms? A cross-sectional study of Swedish
physicians’ attitudes towards young females requesting virginity
certificates or hymen restoration." J Med Ethics
What It Is and What It Is Not." Stem Cells and Development.
April 15, 2014, 23(8): 796-812. doi:10.1089/scd.2013.0364.
Musitelli S, Bossi I,"The Hippocratic "oath" (Some
further reasonable hypotheses)."
Research 2014; 1:733 (25 April, 2014)