New hope for Ontario doctors’ conscience fight

The Catholic Register

Michael Swan

New evidence heard in court has given Ontario’s medical conscientious objectors renewed hope.

Two days of hearings before the Ontario Court of Appeal Jan. 21-22 has provided Christian Medical and Dental Society (CMDS) executive director Deacon Larry Worthen a dollop of confidence as he waits for a decision from the three-judge panel. . . Full Text

The status of the human embryo in various religions

William Neaves

Abstract

Research into human development involves the use of human embryos and their derivative cells and tissues. How religions view the human embryo depends on beliefs about ensoulment and the inception of personhood, and science can neither prove nor refute the teaching of those religions that consider the zygote to be a human person with an immortal soul. This Spotlight article discusses some of the dominant themes that have emerged with regard to how different religions view the human embryo, with a focus on the Christian faith as well as Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish and Islamic perspectives.


Neaves W. The status of the human embryo in various religions. Development 2017 144: 2541-2543; doi: 10.1242/dev.151886

In Argentina’s religious freedom row, politics makes strange bedfellows

Crux

Ines San Martin

ROME – Argentina didn’t exist as a nation when Shakespeare inspired the line “politics make strange bedfellows,” but if the Bard were around today, he might well look to the pope’s native country for proof, where the once leading conservative rival of the future pontiff and Amnesty International find themselves in an unlikely alliance over a proposed religious freedom law.

In the case of Archbishop Héctor Rubén Aguer of La Plata, seen as the country’s most fiercely traditional prelate on matters such as the legalization of abortion and contraception, he insists the law could threaten the Church’s protected status under the country’s constitution, while Amnesty International fears the law could deprive Argentine youth of their sexual rights. . . [Full text]

 

Ontario conscience rights case now in judges’ hands

Catholic Register

Michael Swan

TORONTO – Three days and nearly two dozen lawyers arguing the broad principles and technical details of constitutional law before a three-judge has panel left Christian Medical and Dental Society executive director Deacon Larry Worthen “cautiously optimistic.”

“The court certainly heard our arguments,” Worthen told The Catholic Register on June 15 outside the courtroom as lawyers shook hands and dispersed in the hallways of historic Osgoode Hall.

The trial before the Ontario Court of Justice was likely the first leg in a battle all the combatants expect will end in at the Supreme Court of Canada. Five dissenting Christian doctors who all object to abortion, chemical birth control, petri-dish human fertilization and assisted suicide asked the court to strike down a 2015 College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario rule that forces them to provide an “effective referral” for services they reject on the basis of their religious faith or conscience. . . [Full text]

 

Ontario doctors challenge policy forcing referrals for medically assisted dying

College’s rules infringe on doctors’ right to object on conscientious, religious grounds, groups argue

CBC News

Amanda Pfeffer

Rules forcing Ontario doctors to offer medically assisted dying — or at least a timely referral — infringe on their constitutional right to object on conscientious or religious grounds, several physicians’ groups told a divisional court tribunal this week.

Their lawyer is asking the tribunal for a judicial review of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario’s (CPSO) recent policy on assisted dying, which requires doctors to perform an “effective referral.”

But several groups including the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada, the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians’ Societies and Canadian Physicians for Life, along with five individuals, are arguing the policy is the moral equivalent of offering the procedure themselves. . . [Full text]

 

Doctors being ‘bullied’ over assisted suicide, legislators told at Bill 84 hearings

The Catholic Register

Michael Swan

Doctors are being bullied, silenced and coerced in a pro-euthanasia environment which is forcing those who object to medically assisted suicide to provide an effective referral for patients who wish to die, provincial legislators were told during hearings into Bill 84.

Oncologist Dr. Ellen Warner told an all-party committee that physicians . . . are “being bullied” and are experiencing a “horrendous stress level.” She described colleagues who object to assisted suicide speaking in code and using alternative email addresses to discuss doctor-assisted death. . . Hamilton Dr. Jane Dobson held back tears as she described the pressure she’s faced since the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario ruled that doctors who have a moral, ethical or religious objection to assisted dying must nevertheless provide an “effective referral” for the procedure. . . [Full text]

Religious coalition backs doctors’ conscience rights battle at Queen’s Park

The Catholic Register

Register Staff

A coalition of Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders has sent an open letter to all 107 Ontario MPPs urging them to work together and “find a pathway that respects the rights of medical professionals, facilities and patients.”

The letter was sent March 27 as committee hearings were underway regarding Bill-84, which will regulate medically assisted dying in Ontario.

The coalition urges MPPs to amend the Bill to include conscience protection for doctors and other health-care workers who oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, and to follow the Alberta model to create a “care coordination service” that provides patient access to assisted dying without requiring a direct doctor referral. . . .[Full text]

 

Saskatchewan religious leaders call for freedom of conscience on assisted death

Regina Leader Post

D.C. Fraser

Religious leaders from around Saskatchewan are coming together to let the province know they want freedom of conscience to be respected throughout the assisted dying process.

The federal government passed assisted-dying legislation last week, at the insistence of the Supreme Court after it struck down laws preventing doctors from helping the incurable die.

It took a national debate, and a law ping-ponging between the Senate and House of Commons, but federal government officials say the law strikes the right balance between personal autonomy for those wanting to die and protecting the vulnerable.

Reverends, bishops, pastors,rabbis, imams and the like from around the province met with provincial officials on Tuesday and signed a letter calling for freedom of conscience, whether or not something lines up with their personal moral sense, when it comes to doctor-assisted deaths. . . [Full text]

Concerns raised about physician-assisted death policy

The Canadian Jewish News

Paul Lungen

The Supreme Court has spoken, the legislative wing is deliberating, but some in the Jewish community are uncomfortable with the direction the country is going in adopting a policy on physician-assisted suicide.

Discussion on the topic is now so normalized that an acronym has arisen, PAD, referring to it as physician-assisted dying.

As is the case throughout Canada, the Jewish community is not of one mind when it comes to public policy regarding the issue. The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) canvassed a broad spectrum of opinion in the Jewish community and presented a series of suggestions to the minister of justice that would regulate how the policy is implemented. . . [Full Text]

 

Orthodox doctors wrestle with ethics of ‘assisted suicide’

The Canadian Jewish News

Barbara Silverstein

Dr. Albert Kirshen said it’s just a matter of time before one of his patients asks him for assistance to die. Kirshen, an observant Jew who is a physician at the Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care at Mount Sinai Hospital, said he is bracing himself for the inevitable.

Kirshen is “personally conflicted” and struggling with the new Supreme Court-mandated policy that will permit physician-assisted death (PAD), he said, explaining that while the medical college will require him to accommodate a patient’s request to die, Jewish law does not permit him to make a referral for the termination of a life.

Kirshen spoke to the issue at a town hall meeting on “the implications of the proposed federal assisted suicide legislation on the practice of medicine,” held March 7 at Shaarei Shomayim Congregation in Toronto. About 300 people, many of them physicians, packed the shul’s social hall to learn more about the issue from an Orthodox perspective that reflected the views of rabbis, physicians and a legal expert. . . [Full text]