Protection of conscience initiative launched by New Zealand health care professionals

NEWS RELEASE

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.

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