1 March, 2021
Covering the period from 1 January to 28 February, 2021
1. Developments by Region/Country
Visit the Project News Portal for details.
Argentina's new abortion law came into force in late January. It permits abortion on demand until the 14th week of gestation, and abortion after that in cases of rape or to preserve the "integral health" of the mother.
The government of British Columbia is evicting the Delta Hospice Society and expropriating its hospice because it has refused to permit euthanasia and assisted sucide on its premises.
An amendment to the Criminal Code to extend the provision of assisted suicide and euthanasia to people who are not terminally ill is moving through the Canadian parliament. The Ontario Medical Association, the largest physician association in the country, requested a protection of conscience amendment be added to the bill. The request was supported by the Project, and a group of Indigenous leaders made a similar appeal.
An assisted suicide and euthanasia bill is being considered by the Oireachtas. The bill is strongly opposed by palliative care physicians.
An Irish general practitioner has publicly declared himself a "conscientious objector" to Covid vaccination and testing, refusing to provide or refer patients for either. The CEO of the Irish Health Service Executive stated that health care workers who refuse to be vaccinated may be removed from their positions to protect other people.
A euthanasia and assisted suicide bill has been passed by the Portuguese parliament. Portugal's President has sent the legislation to the Constitutional Court for review.
The law includes a protection of conscience provision which permits health professionals to refuse to assist in "advancing the death of a patient" -- a term broad enough to encompass diagnosis, evaluation and facilitation by referral or other means. An objection can be based upon clinical, ethical or other grounds. An objecting professional must advise a patient of the objection and reasons for it, and must also give written notices to those in charge of health facilities where they work and to their professional orders.
The law describes places where the services can be provided, but is not clear about the freedom of health care facilities to refuse to be involved with euthanasia and assisted suicide or to prohibit the procedures on their premises. Nothing in the law requires a facility to comply with a patient’s choice. Lack of clarity on this point is likely to cause problems, especially if Portuguese euthanasia/assisted suicide advocates are as aggressive as those in Canada.
High Court judge in the United Kingdom has ruled that it is very doubtful children can give informed consent for the prescription of puberty-blocking drugs. This forced the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) clinic in London, (theTavistock Centre) to stop prescribing the drugs for children under 16. Testimony now made public included expert evidence to the effect that the Centre was using vulnerable children in potentially damaging human experimentation that did not reflect evidence-based clinical practice. The Centre plans to appeal the ruling.
Federal legislators are moving forward with the Equality Act, a bill ostensibly intended to ensure equality for people who with various and shifting sexual inclinations or gender claims. Critics of the law assert that it is designed to force health care workers and institutions to provide or facilitate procedures like abortion, sterilization and body reconfiguration, notwithstanding religious or moral objections to the services. Meanwhile, a federal court in North Dakota has issued a permanent injunction against a provision of the Affordable Care Act to the extent that it is used to compel objecting health care facilities and individuals to provide body reconfiguration services or procedures.
The New Mexican legislature has repealed a 1969 abortion law that included a protection of conscience provision. The lower house has also passed an assisted suicide bill
The Arkansas Senate passed a protection of conscience bill and sent it to the House for consideration. A House committee refused to endorse it.
2. News Items/Commentary
You can search news items by date, country and topic in the
Project News Portal
Delta Hospice Society – Layoffs and Eviction (Canada)
Court blocks mandate forcing doctors to perform controversial gender transition procedures
Argentina’s abortion law enters force under watchful eyes
Physicians should not be forced to make assisted-death referrals
Federal Court Upholds Conscience Protections for Doctors
‘A live experiment on children’
Atticus Finch Teaches a Lesson in Conscience Rights
Bill to decriminalize abortion passes House committee (New Mexico)
Irish healthcare professionals warn against euthanasia, assisted suicide
Portuguese Parliament approves euthanasia
Australia to vote on ‘three-person baby’ IVF
Why Covid dissidents need to be understood, not demonised (Ireland)
Healthcare workers who refuse vaccination can be removed, says HSE chief (Ireland)
Medical providers’ conscience bill passes (Arkansas)
How Bill C-7 will sacrifice the medical profession’s standard of care (Canada re: euthanasia, assisted suicide)
In historic turn, state Senate passes abortion ban repeal (New Mexico)
Irish GP refuses to administer Covid-19 vaccines as ‘conscientious objector’, does not refer patients for Covid tests
‘I couldn’t believe it’ — Shock as Irish doctor says he will refuse to administer COVID-19 vaccine
Right to refuse is a key issue in abortion debate (New Mexico)
Palliative care experts warn of ‘deeply flawed’ assisted dying Bill(Ireland)
The Dark Side of CRISPR
MAID for mental illness opens dangerous doors (Canada)
How Surrogacy Arrangements Fail Children
Accused of abandoning two babies in the US, this Chinese celebrity has sparked a national debate about surrogacy
Catholic Employers Have Opportunity for Protection From HHS Abortion and Transgender Mandates
Portugal’s euthanasia law goes for constitutional review
House passes aid-in-dying legislation (New Mexico)
Conservative groups lament reintroduction of ‘conscience-crushing,’ ‘Orwellian’ Equality Act
Historic abortion ban repeal one signature away from becoming law after it passes House (New Mexico)
Mental illness should never be a death sentence (Canada)
When Amazon Erased My Book
House committee defeats bill to allow ‘conscience’ refusal to provide or pay for medical services (Arkansas)
3. Recent Postings
Examining the thorny problem of foetal reduction
Is Reducing Down Syndrome Births a Form of Eugenics?
A Russian woman wants 105 surrogate babies – and has the money to pay for them
London newspaper reveals ‘shocking evidence’ about transgender treatments
After all, what is really wrong with apotemnophilia?
Doctors need to study the lessons of the Holocaust, says ethics journal
MAiD Muscles In:B.C.’s Delta Hospice Society being evicted, assets expropriated for refusing to allow euthanasia and assisted suicide
Ontario Medical Association asks for protection of conscience amendment to euthanasia/assisted suicide bill
Protection of Conscience Project supports Ontario Medical Association appeal
Indigenous Peoples Should Not Be Compelled to Provide or Facilitate Medical Assistance in Dying
Portuguese assisted suicide/euthanasia law and freedom of conscience
Equality Act’s Attack on Religious Liberty, Medical Conscience
Portugal: DECREE No. 109/XIV; Regulates the conditions under which medically assisted death is not punishable and amends the Penal Code - Protection of conscience provisions
Navigating Vaccine Ethics
4. Action Items
College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario policy review
The state medical regulator for Ontario, Canada is reviewing two critical policies. Both require objecting physicians to arrange for non-objecting colleagues to provide services they find morally objectionable, including euthanasia and assisted suicide.
The College is soliciting feedback from the public and professionals. Deadline for comment is 30 April, 2021.
One would expect greatest weight will be given to comments from Ontario residents. Links to the survey pages follow, with links to guides for completion of the CPSO surveys for health care professionals and members of the public.
CPSO consultation page on euthanasia and assisted suicide policy (MAiD)
- health care professionals-guide-2021-cpso-maid-on-line-survey
- public-guide-2021-cpso-maid-discussion forum
CPSO consultation page on human rights policy (effective referral for all contested services)
-health care professionals-guide-2021-cpso-pohr-on-line-survey
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.
Call for papers:
6. Publications of Interest
Pizzo PA, Spiegel D, Mello MM. When Physicians Engage in Practices That Threaten the Nation’s Health. JAMA; 2021 Feb 04. Published online February 04, 2021. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.0122
Symons X. Rawls, Reasonableness, and Conscientious Objection in Health Care. In: Grant B, Drew J, Christensen H, editors. Applied Ethics in the Fractured State (Research in Ethical Issues in Organizations, Vol. 20). Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing Limited; 2018. p. 45-54. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1529-209620180000020004
Royal Irish Academy Symposium: How should a liberal democracy react to conscientious objection claims?