HHS preventive services mandate update

The Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta, Georgia and the Catholic Diocese of Savannah have been granted a permanent injunction barring the federal government from enforcing the HHS birth control mandate against them. [Catholic Culture]  In Oklahoma, 200 Catholic employers filed a suit against the federal government seeking the same kind of protection.  The Catholic Benefits Association wants to offer health insurance that does not include coverage for contraceptives. [Associated Press]  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 HHS mandate. [The Foundry]

Canadian assisted suicide/euthanasia bill lacks protection of conscience provision

Member of Parliament Steven Fletcher has introduced Bill C581 in the Canadian House of Commons, a private member’s bill to legalize physician assisted suicide and euthanasia.  He has also introduced Bill C582 to establish a Canadian Commission on Physician Assisted Death, a body that would “produce public information on physician-assisted death and to support law and policy reform with respect to physician-assisted death.”  Bill C581 does not include a protection of conscience clause for physicians or health care workers who refuse to participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide for reasons of conscience.  Due to Canadian rules of parliamentary procedure and unwillingness of the governing party to revisit the issues, it is highly unlikely that the bills will come to a vote.

Genetic screening to improve intelligence

Writing in The Conversation, ethicist Julian Savulescu discusses recently published findings that indicate that children with two copies of a common gene (Thr92Ala) and low thyroid hormone levels apparently increase the likelihood of low IQ by a factor of four.  Since the “risk of low intelligence” depends upon both the genetic configuration and hormonal level, he suggests that such children could be treated with supplemental thyroid hormones “to enhance their intelligence.”

The “low intelligence” to which he refers is the 4 % of the U.K. population estimated to have an IQ of between 70 and 85.

“If we could enhance their intelligence, say with thyroid hormone supplementation,” he writes, “we should.”

Savulescu’s focus on intelligence in this case should not become a distraction.  Supplementing hormones seems to present no special ethical problems, since the goal in that case would not be eugenic perfectionism or enhancement, but therapeutic correction of a deficiency.  However, Savulescu goes beyond this to propose that IVF embryos be screened, and that embryos found to have two copies of the Thr92Ala gene not be selected for implantation.  What is unstated is that the ‘defective’ embryos should be killed.  This would be an ethical/moral problem for anyone who holds that deliberately killing human embryos is wrong.


Project article on Quebec euthanasia bill published in Turkish law journal

The three part series Redefining the practice of medicine: Winks and nods and euthanasia in Quebec (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.

Midwife ordered to pay $17,000 after opposing abortions at her hospital


Natalia Dueholm

How much does the truth cost?  For a Polish midwife, it could cost up to 50,000 złotych (approximately $17,000).

The management of a private Polish hospital has threatened legal action against Agata Rejman, a midwife, after she discussed abortions performed at the Specialist Hospital Pro-Familia (right) in Rzeszów.

Rejman’s legal troubles began after a January 2014 press conference organized by Senator Kazimierz Jaworski.  During the conference, Rejman described her anguish after having to participate in abortions at the hospital.
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