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Protection of Conscience Project

Service, not Servitude
Repression of Conscience

Repression of Conscience in Health Care


Objectors to be Denied DiplomasDiscriminatory diplomacy?
(United Kingdom: 1999-2000)

  • Triple Helix | Doctors who have a conscientious objection to prescribing post-coital contraception or IUCDs that act after fertilisation will no longer be able to obtain the Diploma of the Faculty of Family Planning (DFFP) of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
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Personal Qualms Don't Count:
Foothills Hospital Now Forces Nurses To Participate In Genetic Terminations
(Calgary, Alberta, Canada: 1999)

  • Marnie Ko | "The present mood is...chaotic, helpless, frustrated and highly emotional," Sally wrote. "In the past weeks, I have witnessed tears, breakdowns, illnesses, and stress such as never before...Sick calls have been high and experienced staff nearly impossible to recruit."
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Down the Slope to Infanticide
Nurses At Foothills Hospital Rebel Over The Horrifying Results Of Late-Term 'Genetic Terminations'
(Calgary, Alberta, Canada: 1999)

  • Marnie Ko | Genetic terminations unquestionably constitute murder in the minds of the Foothills nurses who contacted this magazine after hospital administrators demanded they assist with abortions. The nurses are backed by a February 26 administrative memo obtained by this magazine which states that for Maternity Care Centre (MCC) staff, "not participating in terminations is not an option."
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Nurses Triumphant! Human Rights Case Ends in Settlement
After a difficult five year struggle, eight Ontario health care professionals win the right to choose.
(Markham-Stoufville, Ontario, Canada:1993-1998)

  • Sue Careless* | . . .Staff with religious objections will not be required to provide primary nursing care to a patient admitted for an abortion, but could be required to provide post-abortion nursing care. They would not, however, have to in any way participate "in the administration, monitoring or documenting of the pregnancy termination process.". . .
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K-Mart Pharmacist Fired for Refusing to Dispense Potential Embryocide
(Cincinnati, Ohio, USA: 1996)

  • Karen L. Brauer M.S. R.Ph* | . . .I was fired from my position as a pharmacist with the KMart Corporation for refusal to dispense Micronor, a progestin-only "minipill", for the purpose of birth control. . .
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In-vitro physician faced ethics charges for embryo-saving stance
(USA: 1989-2008)

  • |  Brief examples that demonstrate the often subtle, sometimes flagrant and increasingly pervasive discrimination faced by pro-life, faith-based and conscience-driven individuals in the healthcare professions.
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Student pressured to participate in abortion
(Saskatchewan, Canada:  1999)

  • Hansard | In speaking to the protection of conscience bill he introduced in the Canadian House of Commons, Mr. Maurice Vellacott told the House about an encounter he had had with one of his constituents, a student who was under some duress to participate in abortion.  Mr. Vellacott advised the constituent to return to his office if she was unable to make an alternate arrangement and opt out of observation/involvement in an abortion. When she did not return, Mr. Vellacott assumed that she had been accommodated.
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"Can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen"
Law professor tells senators how he deals with conscientious objectors
(Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada:1995-2000)

  • Sean Murphy* | In February, 2000, a law professor from western Canada addressed the sub-committee. He told the Senators about an incident that occurred during a seminar at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg. The seminar, a role playing exercise, had been organized by a professor of medicine. The relevant portion the testimony has been extracted from the transcript of the sub-committee hearing.
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Ob-Gyn physician's malpractice insurer insists on lesbian insemination
(USA: 1995-1999)

  • |  Brief examples that demonstrate the often subtle, sometimes flagrant and increasingly pervasive discrimination faced by pro-life, faith-based and conscience-driven individuals in the healthcare professions.
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Hospital Restricts Nurses' Freedom of Conscience
(Markham-Stoufville, Ontario, Canada:1993-1998)

  • David Dooley | If the province can spend millions of dollars setting up abortion clinics, Stephens said, it can well afford to hire nurses prepared to take part in abortions, rather than forcing others to go against their consciences. . . . And if hospitals pride themselves on being responsive to the community, this one should make plain how the recent decision was made and why the nurses are under such compulsion.
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Med-School Admission Committees: Tainted by Pro-Choice Bias?
(Canada: 1995)

  • Williard Johnston. M.D.* | Recently, a worried pre-med student called me. A year ago her interview had gone badly, partly because her pro-life views became known to her interviewer, a woman whose pro-choice sentiments have been expressed to me personally in the past. Back for another try, her interview somehow ended up on the same topic.
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Objecting Nurse Fired
10 years of litigation follows dismissal
(Orange County, California, USA: June, 1994)

  • Short/Kennedy | The case of nurse Karen Kelly illustrates the kind of exhausting litigation that conscientious objectors may encounter when pursuing wrongful dismissal claims against large employers with 'deep pockets.' Her story is told in news reports filed at critical points as the case proceeded.
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Anesthesiologist must anesthetize for abortion as employment condition
(USA: 1989-2008)

  • |  Brief examples that demonstrate the often subtle, sometimes flagrant and increasingly pervasive discrimination faced by pro-life, faith-based and conscience-driven individuals in the healthcare professions.
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Personal Experience in Switzerland in 1989

  • Niklaus Waldis, MD* | Describes his experience in being rejected for training in obstetrics over a period of three years because he would not do abortions.  Remains a general practitioner.
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Military physician forced to refer for abortions
(USA: ca. 1989)

  • |  Brief examples that demonstrate the often subtle, sometimes flagrant and increasingly pervasive discrimination faced by pro-life, faith-based and conscience-driven individuals in the healthcare professions.
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Sweeney Defends Firings
Transition house workers fired, denied benefits for 'misconduct'
(North Bay, Ontario, Canada: 1988)

  • Frank M. Kennedy | The Honourable John Sweeney, Ontario Minister of Community and Social Services, recently defended the dismissal of three pro-life staff workers at the Nipissing Transition House, a home for battered women in North Bay, for refusing to go along with the pro-abortion policy of the board. . .
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Nurses Fight for Freedom
21 out of 30 paediatric nurses resign
(Mississauga, Ontario, Canada: 1988)

  • Michael Otis | Some Toronto area hospitals are forcing nurses to perform abortions. At a press conference called on February 16 by Nurses for Life, spokeswomen Kathleen Winarski and Helen McGee detailed the situation of nurses who face discrimination or loss of employment for refusing to assist with abortions. . .
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Supervisor demands nurse assist with abortion
Nurse quits at Shaughnessy Hospital
Vancouver, B.C. Canada (1987)

  • Sean Murphy | When Gina Fraser applied to work in the operating room at Shaughnessy Hospital in Vancouver in 1983, she made it clear that she was unwilling to assist with abortions.  The supervisor told her that other nurses were willling to do so, and she would be accommodated.  For the next four years she worked in the operating room under the terms of this unwritten agreement.
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Hospital Aide Fired for Refusing to Clean Abortion Instruments
(Valparaiso, Indiana, USA: 1986)

  • Sean Murphy* | Elaine Tramm was fired despite the fact that Indiana had a protection of conscience statute. It took three years to win a lawsuit against the hospital; five months later, a jury awarded her $5,200.00 in compensatory damages and more than $18,000.00 in punitive damages.
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Worker fired for refusing payment for illegal abortion
(Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: 1985)

  • Sean Murphy* | Cecilia Moore was a probationary employee of the British Columbia welfare department when a client asked for medical coverage for an abortion. The abortion would have been a criminal offence under the law in force at the time, and was, in the view of the attending physician, not only unnecessary for medical reasons but actually contra-indicated. Since the client was ineligible, Moore refused to approve coverage. However, her supervisor ordered her to authorize it.  Moore persisted in her refusal, citing policy, the criminal law and her own conscientious objections to abortion. Although rated as "an excellent worker", she was dismissed.
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Chinese health care workers and the 'one-child' policy
(China: 1983-1999)

  • Senate Hearing | Since at least1991, Australia has been faced with Chinese women who apply for refugee status because of China's 'one-child policy.'  Australian authorities were unsympathetic to these claims, and one Chinese woman, 8 1/2 months pregnant when deported from Australia, was forced to have an abortion upon her return to China.  Senate committee hearings were conducted into the matter. A Chinese physician testified about the operation of the 'one-child policy' and the coercion of health care workers.
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Med School 101: You Must Perform or Refer for Abortion
(Toronto, Ontario, Canada: 1979)

  • Paul Ranalli, M.D.* | . . .His face was flaming red, the veins in his neck bulged out from the starched collar of his shirt. He tore into me for my insolence and presumption for writing such a thing on the exam paper. Who did I think I was, he told me? Didn't I realize that women needed abortion, and it was the duty of every doctor to provide service to his patients? . . . "I could fail you for this!"
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Nurse Denied Employment, Forced to Resign
(British Columbia, Canada: 1977-1984)

  • Sean Murphy* | Bradley, an operating room nurse with 15 years experience, was told that she could keep her position only if she assisted in abortions. As a result, she went to Children's Hospital, and eventually left the nursing profession. She has not worked in the health care field since 1984.
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Question of Conscience
(United Kingdom: 1973)

  • R. L. Walley, FRCSC, FRCOG, MPH * | It was quite a surprise, back in 1973, to be informed by an eminent professor of obstetrics and gynaecology . . as a Roman Catholic specialist, that "there is no place for to practice within the National Health Service . . ." [I]n order to stay in the specialities in the United kingdom, I would have had to compromise a conscientiously held abhorrence to the direct taking of human life. I refused and as a consequence became unemployed with a wife and three children and had to leave country, home and family in order to practise my chosen specialty in full freedom. . .
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