Project advisor awarded honour by state of Indiana

Dr. Shahid Athar receives Golden Hoosier Award
athar-golden-hoosier

Dr. Shahid Athar, who has been an advisor to the Project from its inception, has received the state of Indiana’s Golden Hoosier Award.

Indiana has annually honoured selected senior citizens for their lifetime of service and commitment to their communities since 2008. The Golden Hoosier Award is considered one of the highest honours given by the State of Indiana to senior citizens.

Dr. Athar was nominated by Pastor Jerry Zehr and Razzi Nalim.  The award citation states:

Dr. Shahid Athar serves his community as a volunteer physician for Indianapolis’s homeless, HIV patients and other individuals who may not be able to afford medical treatment.  In addition, he serves as a board member for the Protection of Conscience Project, St. Vincent Ethical Committee, and the Islamic Medical Association of North America.  Most notably, Dr. Athar is known for his advocacy of interfaith as a way to overcome terrorism and to help Hoosier Muslims deal with the negative fallout of the attacks on September 11, 2001.  Dr. Athar is highly regarded among his peers and his community.  Whether he is providing professional medical care for the needy, or presenting on interfaith, he always leads by example and with compassion for others.  His generosity has left a lasting impression on Hoosiers of all faiths.

The term “Hoosier” means a resident of Indiana.

After Hobby Lobby: What Is Caesar’s, What Is God’s?

Address at the pre-conference session, ‘After Hobby Lobby: What Is Caesar’s, What Is God’s?’

2015 Petrie-Flom Center Annual Conference
“Law, Religion, and Health in America,”
Harvard Law School

  Frank R. Wolf, *

. . . As we ponder, “What Is Caesar’s, What Is God’s?”, I am reminded of a profound quote from one of Virginia’s native sons.

Founding Father James Madison once opined, “Conscience is the most sacred of all property.” And as it relates to our discussion today, I maintain that conscience is most assuredly God’s.

In that vein, I’d like to begin with a personal story which serves as a window into my own conscience.

On the opening day of a new Congress, the vote for Speaker is the first vote held, and it is always by voice vote. Each Member’s name is called out, and he or she shouts out the name of their party leader.

On January 7, 1997 – the opening day of the 105th Congress – we were voting on the reelection of Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House.

Newt was then under investigation by the House Ethics Committee. The House Democratic whip, David Bonior, had filed most of the eighty-four ethics charges against him, which ranged from accusations that Newt had misused tax-exempt funds to criticism over a lucrative advance he was offered by HarperCollins to write two books.

Eighty-three of the eighty-four charges were ultimately dropped.

However at the time of the vote, the Ethics Committee report had not yet been published.

I felt that I could not, in good conscience, vote for Newt as Speaker until I had seen the report. This turned out to be a very controversial decision.  [Full text]

Your morality, my mortality: conscientious objection and the standard of care

Camb Q Healthc Ethics. 2015 Apr;24(2):214-30. doi: 10.1017/S0963180114000528.

Ben A. Rich

Abstract

Recently the scope of protections afforded those healthcare professionals and institutions that refuse to provide certain interventions on the grounds of conscience have expanded, in some instances insulating providers (institutional and individual) from any liability or sanction for harms that patients experience as a result. With the exponential increase in the penetration of Catholic-affiliated healthcare across the country, physicians and nurses who are not practicing Catholics are nevertheless required to execute documents pledging to conform their patient care to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Health Care Services as a condition of employment or medical staff privileges. In some instances, doing so may result in patient morbidity or mortality or violate professional standards for respecting advance directives or surrogate decisionmaking. This article challenges the ethical propriety of such institutional mandates and argues that legal protections for conscientious refusal must provide redress for patients who are harmed by care that falls below the prevailing clinical standards. [Full text]

 

Conscience and Community: Understanding the Freedom of Religion

Responding to Protections and Applications of the First Amendment Today

Georgetown University,
Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs
Cornerstone
Reproduced with permission

Richard Garnett*

“Religion,” said Justice William Douglas in his Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972) opinion, is “an individual experience.” The opinion was a partial dissent, and this statement is partially correct. But, it does not tell the entire story.  Many “religious experiences” are those of monks, mystics, and prophets – and of salesmen, coaches, teachers, and cops. But, many are also of peoples and tribes and congregations. As Justice Douglas’s colleague, Justice William Brennan, insisted in Corporation of the Presiding Bishop v. Amos (1987), “[f]or many individuals, religious activity derives meaning in large measure from participation in a larger religious community. Such a community represents an ongoing tradition of shared beliefs, an organic entity not reducible to a mere aggregation of individuals.” [Full Text]

Alabama House Bill 491 (2015)

Health Care Rights of Conscience Act

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT

Relating to health care, to allow health care providers to decline to perform any health care service that violates their conscience and provide remedies for persons who exercise that right and suffer consequences as a result. [Full text]

Tunnel vision at the College of Physicians

National Post

Sean Murphy

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has adopted a policy requiring physicians who have moral or ethical objections to a procedure to make an “effective referral” of patients to a colleague who will provide it, or to an agency that will arrange for it. In 2008, amidst great controversy, the Australian state of Victoria passed an abortion law with a similar provision.

After the law passed, a Melbourne physician, morally opposed to abortion, publicly announced that he had refused to provide an abortion referral for a patient. This effectively challenged the government and medical regulator to prosecute or discipline him. They did not. The law notwithstanding, no one dared prosecute him for refusing to help a woman 19 weeks pregnant obtain an abortion because she and her husband wanted a boy, not a girl.

They obtained the abortion without the assistance of the objecting physician, and they could have done the same in Ontario. College Council member Dr. Wayne Spotswood, himself an abortion provider, told Council that everyone 15 or 16 years old knows that anyone refused an abortion by one doctor “can walk down the street” to obtain the procedure elsewhere.

So why did the College working group that drafted the demand for “effective referral” urge College Council to adopt a policy that so clearly has the potential to make the College look ridiculous? . . .[Full text]

Canadian medical schools readying doctors to talk to patients about assisted suicide

National Post

Sharon Kirkey

Canada’s medical schools are preparing for what was once unimaginable — teaching medical students and residents how to help patients take their own lives.

As the nation moves toward legalized physician-assisted death, Canada’s 17 faculties of medicine have begun to consider how they will introduce assisted dying into the curriculum for the next generations of doctors.

It is a profound change for medical educators, who have long taught future doctors that it is immoral to end a life intentionally.

“If legislation passes, and if it becomes a standard of practice in Canada for a small subset of patients who desire assisted death, and where all the conditions are met, would we want a cadre of doctors that are trained in the emotional, communicative and technical aspects of making those decisions, and assisting patients,” said Dr. Richard Reznick, dean of the faculty of health sciences at Queen’s University in Kingston. “We would.” . . . [Full text]

Canadian doctor rallies colleagues against ‘tyrannical’ attack on conscience and sound medicine

LifeSite News

Steve Weatherbe

Dr. Martin Owen, a Calgary family doctor, has taken on the task of rousing his fellow practitioners to the danger posed to their integrity by policies being pushed by professional regulators in several provinces.

“My conscience is on the line,” Owen said in a chain e-letter. “If I lived in Ontario, I’d probably move my 7 children to another province so I could avoid the tyranny over my professional medical judgment and my conscience.”

Appalled by the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons’ new requirement for all doctors, regardless of moral objections, to do or refer abortions,  Owen has launched a website, freedomofconscience.ca, with Ezra Levant just before the latter’s Sun News Network folded, and sent chain e-letters to colleagues asking them to vote in a “poorly worded” CBC poll about the issue. And as with a chain letter, he has asked his recipients to pass his message on to 10 colleagues.

“The time has come when doctors now need to fight for the right not to perform abortions, prescribe birth control, or refer patients for controversial procedures,” the email stated. . . [Full text]

 

Saskatchewan policy forcing doctors to violate conscience fails to win enough support: final decision delayed

LifeSiteNews

Steve Weatherbe

A move to force Christian doctors in Saskatchewan to do abortions, assist at suicides, or refer patients to other willing doctors failed to win sufficient support at a meeting of the College of Physicians and Surgeons’ ruling council Thursday.

Faced with 4,400 hostile letters, many instigated by the Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, the council decided to continue discussion at an emergency meeting on Saturday, and likely to put off a final vote until June, after a full public consultation.

“They weren’t all on the same page at all,” said Colette Stang, the head of Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association. “So it was a bit of a relief. I was pleased the decision wasn’t made.”. . . [Full text]

Court challenge raises issue of “reasonable apprehension of bias”

Sean Murphy*

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario is facing a court challenge by the Christian Medical and Dental Society and the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians’ Societies.  They have filed an application in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice asking for an injunction against enforcement of the College’s controversial new policy, Professional Obligations and Human Rights.  According to the application the College acknowledged that it had received 15,977 submissions during the second consultation concerning the policy, which ended on 20 February, 2015.  The great majority of submissions opposed the policy.

While the consultation ended on 20 February, a working group wrote the final version of the policy by 11 February, at least nine days before the consultation closed.  This is one of the factors that gives rise to concern about what the CMDS application calls either “actual bias” or “a reasonable apprehension of bias” on the part of the working group.

On this point, the statistics provided by the College are of interest.

submissionsAccording to the briefing note supplied to the College Council, by 11 February, 2015 the College had received 3,105 submissions.  This means that 12,872 submissions were received from 12 to 20 February inclusive.  In other words, over 80% of the submissions in the second consultation were received after the final version of the policy was written.

Moreover, allowing sufficient time to receive feedback is only the beginning.  Having received them, one would expect that a working group seriously interested in feedback would allow sufficient time to review and analyse the submissions.

During the 64 days of consultation ending 11 February, the College received an average of almost 50 submissions per day.  There were 43 working days during that period.  Assuming someone spent eight full hours every working day reading the submissions, it would have taken one person about seven minutes to review each one.

analysisHowever, during the nine days of consultation ending 20 February, the College received an average of 60 submissions every hour.  With 16 working days available from 12 February to 5 March inclusive, the day before the Council meeting, one person reading eight hours a day would have had no more than 36 seconds to review each submission.

Presumably this will be one of the issues to which the attention of the court will be directed if the case goes to trial.