Council of Europe Hailed for Religious-Freedom Resolution

Resolution 1928 says that the assembly must ‘accommodate religious beliefs in  the public sphere by guaranteeing freedom of thought in relation to health care,  education and the civil service.’

National Catholic Register

Carl Bunderson/CNA/EWTN NEWS

STRASBOURG, France — A resolution passed by the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly is being lauded as an important — although limited —  recognition of religious and conscience rights in the public sphere.

“The important step with this resolution is the mention of the right to  conscientious objection and the enlargement of its scope of application,” Grégor  Puppinck, general director of the European Centre for Law and Justice, told  Catholic News Agency April 29. [Read more . . .]


Australian physician threatened with discipline for refusing to refer for sex-selective abortion

Couple wanted a boy –  wanted to abort girl

Dr. Mark Hobart, a physician in Melbourne, Australia, refused to refer a couple for an abortion at 19 weeks gestation.  The couple wanted the abortion because they had learned that the woman was carrying a girl.  They wanted a boy, not a girl.  They found another physician without the referral and had the abortion.

Under the state of Victoria’s Abortion Law Reform Act 2008, objecting physicians are obliged to refer patients seeking abortions to a willing colleague.  The law was passed despite vigorous opposition from health care workers who protested the Act’s suppression of freedom of conscience.

Dr. Hobart is aware of the law and refuses, for reasons of conscience, to conform to it. [Herald Sun] [Related: Couple abort girl because they wanted a boy]





Claims of Conscience

Religious Freedom and State Power

3 May, 2013

William Galston

Is religious conscience special? And what kinds of claims (if any) does conscience warrant? These are two of the many questions Brian Leiter raises in his provocative book Why Tolerate Religion? (Princeton University Press, $24.95, 192 pp.).

Note that in principle one could answer the first question in the negative—by denying the distinctiveness of religion—while endorsing broad claims for conscience as such. Imagine a two-by-two table: In the upper left quadrant is an expansive notion of conscience coupled with a broad conception of conscientious claims; in the bottom right is conscience restricted to religion with few or no claims to which the law must yield. The two remaining quadrants are broad/narrow and narrow/broad, respectively.  [Read more . . .]

Protection of conscience initiative launched by New Zealand health care professionals


For immediate release

Protection of Conscience Project

The New Zealand Health Care Professionals Alliance Te Hononga Mãtanga Haurora O Aortearoa has launched a website highlighting the interest of the Alliance in freedom of conscience in health care.  The new site features a Best Practice Guide, Patient Support and Resources, and an introduction to the Alliance’s Mentorship Programme.

The Alliance is a non-denominational organization that welcomes members from all health care professions, including nurses & midwives, doctors, radiographers, pharmacists, laboratory technologists, anaesthetic technicians, and radiation therapists.  Hospital chaplains may also join.  Membership is open to professionals in training, practice and retirement who support the purposes of the organization.

Sean Murphy, Administrator of the Protection of Conscience Project, offered his congratulations to the Alliance.

“Since the Project began in 1999, it has emphasized the importance of local initiatives of this kind,” he said, “and especially the need for health care professionals to become active in support of their own fundamental freedoms.”

“The people best placed to respond to pressures against freedom of conscience in health care are those closest to the action,” Murphy explained.  “New Zealanders know best what challenges they face in their own country, and how to respond effectively to them.  The history of the Alliance demonstrates that quite clearly.”

The New Zealand Health Professionals Alliance (NZHPA) was incorporated in 2009 in response to an attempt by the Medical Council of New Zealand to suppress freedom of conscience by means of a direction called Beliefs and Medical Practice.  Relying on the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003, the NZHPA applied to the High Court for a judicial review of the draft statement because it considered it unlawful.  The court supported the NZHPA, and the Medical Council ultimately decided not to publish the direction.

Global Charter of Conscience: A Global Covenant Concerning Faiths and Freedom of Conscience

The Charter has been drafted by people of many faiths and none, politicians of many  persuasions, academics and NGOs, all committed to a partnership on behalf of “freedom  of thought, conscience and religion” for people of all  faiths and none.
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