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Protection of Conscience Project

www.consciencelaws.org

Service, not Servitude
Law

Legal Commentary

The commentaries provided on the website are not a substitute for legal advice provided by a qualified professional.  Commentaries are grouped by national jurisdiction.  Some ethical commentaries are included in this series because they are related to legal issues.


ARGENTINA

Re: General Commentary

Human Rights and Obstetric Practice: Legal Issues

  • Alberto Mazza* | . . . The scientific advances in the field of health today make possible a number of practices and treatments which sometimes place the professionals who have to apply them in a clear dilemma whereby they question the goodness of such practices and not just their legality. . . In an increasingly pluralistic society, there will be more and more practices that a doctor may object to . . .It would imply a severe injury to the doctors' rights if they were left aside for refusing to undertake certain practices for personal convictions. . .
    Full Text

AUSTRALIA

Re:  Abortion Law Reform Bill 2008
(State of Victoria)

The Abortion Law Reform Bill 2008 legalized abortion in the State of Victoria, Australia.  It demands that physicians who object to abortion for reasons of conscience must refer a woman to a colleague who has no such objections in order to facilitate the procedure, and requires physicians to perform abortions if necessary "to preserve the life of the pregnant woman."  A number of individuals and groups spokeout against the bill and the law, often for a combination of reasons.
Commentary
  • Doctors in Conscience Against Abortion Bill

    • . . .We believe it to be an attack on the basic human rights of health professionals which undermines their moral integrity and professional autonomy. The state should not coerce its health professionals to participate in the taking of human life. . .
      Position Statement
  • Dr. John Neil

    • . . . It is ludicrous that a "registered medical practitioner" should have to perform an emergency abortion. Firstly it is coercive, and others will speak about this. Secondly, it is based on a false premise that an emergency abortion actually is ever necessary. Coercion to make an "effective referral" is also unnecessary and prejudicial. . .
      Full Text
  • Mary Lewis, MBBS, FRACGP, DRANZCOG, MICD, B Min

    • . . .This Bill misrepresents and undervalues the process and responsibilities of professional referral. This Bill implies that referral removes obligation and participation. However, referrals between medical professionals imply a partnership of care. . . There is no way that a practitioner can make or receive such a referral in good conscience if they do not agree with the procedure and care to be undertaken. . .
      Full Text
  • Jacinta Le Page (Medical Student)

    • . . . Firstly, referring personally to another medical practitioner, as this Bill states, seems to be clearly participating in abortion. . . we fear we will be required to research for a colleague who will readily 'help' her have an abortion. Such a personal referral equals participation in the killing. . .
      Full Text
  • Joanne Grainger (Registered Nurse, Bioethicist)

    • . . . I am not here representing all Victorian nurses - that would be a presumptuous assertion. However, there are over 80,000 registered nurses in Victoria - and I speak on behalf of those many nurses who have a conscientious objection to their participation in an abortion on religious, cultural, personal or ethical grounds. . .
      Full text of speech
  • Justine Armstrong (Victorian Division One Theatre Nurse)

    • If passed, this Bill would force me to directly participate in abortions as a theatre nurse. This is totally unacceptable to me and my family. It is immoral. It violates my personal and professional ethical framework. It is an affront to my faith and it strips me of my fundamental rights as a human being and as a professional, to object to an action that contravenes my personal conscience.
      Full Text
  • The Australian Egyptian Doctors and the Coptic Doctors

    • . . .The bill as it stands . . .coerces the health practitioner to behave or act in a manner which comprises his or her ethics, morals, culture and religious beliefs. . .(Egyptian Doctors)
      Full Text
  • George Cardinal Pell

    • The rights of freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief are fundamental. The ability to exercise conscientious objection is a keystone of democracy. All of us should have the right to hold a belief and not be compelled by the state to act contrary to that conviction. It is the difference between the free society and the one subject to tyranny.
      Full text of news release
  • Greg Craven

    • . . .This centrality of conscience in rights discourse hardly is surprising. Of all the rich and varied freedoms, the freedom to think and believe is fundamental. Without it people not only have fewer human rights, they are less human. . .
      Full text
  •  Michael Cook

    • . . . One of the most objectionable features of this legislation is that it effectively removes doctors' right to conscientious objection. It requires doctors-who-won't to refer women to doctors-who-will. Furthermore, "in an emergency where the abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant woman", the doctor must perform it. . .
      A question of conscience
    • . . . corrupting the medical profession by forcing doctors and nurses to collude in this is a clear violation of a universally acknowledged human right to freedom of conscience. Nowhere else in the world does such a draconian law exist, not in New Zealand, not in the United Kingdom, not in Canada, not in the United States. . .
      Forcing compliance
  • Liberty of Conscience in Medicine: A Declaration

    • . . . Liberty of conscience is critical for individual doctors as it lies at the very heart of our integrity and self-identity. It is conscience that must compel doctors to refuse to participate in treatments they believe to be un-ethical or that they consider not to be in the best interests of patients. . .
      Full Text of Declaration
  • Conscience Laws and Healthcare Conference

    • Dr. Lachlan Dunjey:  In this video, Dr Lachlan Dunjey speaks on the topic: The Coercion of Doctors: What is happening to modern medicine?
      Video
    •  Francis Sullivan:  In this video, Francis Sullivan speaks on the topic: Freedom of Conscience and Good Medical Practice: The Australian Medical Association's position.
      Video
    • Martin Laverty:  In this video, Martin Laverty speaks on the topic: The Victorian Abortion Law and the threat to religious affiliated healthcare.
      Video
    • Nigel Preston:  In this video, Nigel Preston speaks on the topic: The Victorian Abortion Law and Conscientious Healthworkers: Is there a way out or do we need a test case?
      Video
    • Julian McGauran:  In this video, Julian McGauran speaks on the topic: The Coercion of Conscience: A Federal Political Response.
      Video

Fundamental freedoms
Why the right to conscientious objection must be restored

  • David van Gend* |  I feel a little out of place coming from Queensland to speak about the wretched situation in Victoria: coming from a State where it is always sunny, where the people are always nice, and where we don't have oppressive laws that try to compel the conscience of free citizens. But we are all in this together: an assault on fundamental freedoms in one State will become a precedent for similar abuses in other States. . .
    Full Text

Re:  Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill (2013)
(State of Tasmania)

New frontiers in repressing dissent

  • Mishka Gora* | Tasmania may be small, but it will punch far above its weight on the world stage in shutting down protests against abortion if a new bill is passed. . . the real aim of the Labor-Green coalition which is running Tasmania is to criminalize abortion dissent.
    Full Text

Submission to the Tasmanian Government

  • Australian Medical Association Tasmania Ltd. | AMA Tasmania has grave concerns that the draft legislation has the potential to criminalise members of the profession with conscientious objection to termination of pregnancy.
    Full Text

CANADA

Re: General Commentary

Understanding Freedom of Conscience

  • Brian Bird* | A court case dealing with freedom of conscience gives rise to questions about what freedom of conscience protects and why we protect it. . . . Balancing physicians' freedom of conscience with patients' access to medical services is a delicate task. But that balance will certainly not be struck if, when it comes to freedom of conscience, we do not know what we are talking about or why it matters.
    Full Text

"Autonomy", "Justice" and the  Legal Requirement to Accommodate 
the Conscience and Religious Beliefs of Professionals in Health Care  

  • Iain T. Benson* | Frank M. Archer's critical review, though it might seem to some people to be a legal and ethical view is, with respect, neither of these things. While it is, in its way, critical, it does not deal with the legal or ethical principles that are necessary in order to make an informed decision regarding law or ethics in relation to the practice of a profession in general or the question of "emergency contraceptives" in particular. . .
    Full Text
 

Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Conscience Protection:
The Freedom of Conscience in Relation to "Health"

  • Iain T. Benson* | . . .Apparently this medical student has been threatened with loss of graduation if, because of his stated religious reasons, he will not offer abortion as an option to a patient. In terms of the legal requirement, the issue is whether or not a physician is required to refer a patient for an abortion. . . .
    Full Text
 

"Do Not Resuscitate": Whose Choice?  
Court Gives Course In Medical Ethics To The Public Trustee

  • Iain T. Benson* Brad. B. Miller* | . . .Can a doctor or health care facility legally issue a "do not resuscitate" order if the patient or the patient's guardian refuses to consent to that order? What are the obligations of the Public Trustee's office with respect to consenting or opposing "do not resuscitate orders? . . .
    Full Text
 

The Courts' Spectacles:
Some Reflections on the Relationship between Law and Religion in Charter Analysis

  • Mr. Justice David M.Brown* | . . .The main point which I wish to make in this paper is that when courts engage in this "managing" exercise they do not operate as philosophically-neutral actors. Instead, the case law reveals that they perform the "managing" exercise through philosophical lenses that are not blank, but reflect philosophical choices which inform their balancing task. . .[
    Full Text
 

In Defence of the New Heretics: A Response to Frank Archer
Responding to Archer F. Emergency Contraceptives and Professional Ethics.
Canadian Pharmaceutical Journal, May 2000, Vol. 133, No. 4, p. 22-26

  • Sean Murphy* | Before taking action that they may later regret, those who would coerce or discriminate against conscientious objectors, or drive them from the practice of pharmacy, would do well to revisit Frank Archer's critical review . . . Although many pharmacists have accepted the review as a definitive ethical statement, it is insufficient warrant for repression of freedom of conscience within the profession. . .
    Full Text (Ethical Commentary)
 

Postscript for the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada:
Morgentaler vs. Professors Cook and Dickens
Responding to Cook RJ, Dickens BM, "In Response". J.Obstet Gyanecol Can 2004; 26(2)112;  Cook RJ, Dickens BM, Access to emergency contraception [letter] J.Obstet Gynaecol Can 2004; 26(8):706.

  • Sean Murphy* | . . . the arguments of Professors Cook and Dickens for mandatory referral are unsupported and even contradicted by their own legal and ethical references. Regulatory officials with the power to enforce the views of Cook and Dickens are unlikely to discover this in the pages of the Journal, since, by editorial fiat, the discussion was terminated with the publication of their 'final word' on the subject. Here, then, is the postscript to the discussion, supplemented by developments in the United Kingdom and Belgium that have a bearing on the issue. . .
    Full Text
 

Commentary on Cecilia Moore's Case 

  • Sean Murphy* | The following commentary concerns the case of Cecilia Moore, a welfare worker who was fired for refusing to authorize medical coverage for an abortion. . .
    Full Text

Re: Carter v. Canada

Legalizing therapeutic homicide and assisted suicide:  
A tour of Carter v. Canada

  • Sean Murphy* | The trajectory of the trial was determined by the unchallenged fundamental premise that suicide can be a rational and moral act, and that the sole purpose of the law against assisted suicide is to prevent suicides by vulnerable people in moments of weakness, who might be tempted to commit suicide that is not rational and moral. The only issue was whether or not safeguards could be designed to permit legitimate access to assisted suicide, while preventing the vulnerable from accessing it in moments of weakness. . .
    Full Text
 

Project Backgrounder
Re: Joint intervention in Carter v. Canada
Supreme Court of Canada, 15 October, 2014

  • In June, 2012, a British Columbia Supreme Court Justice ruled in favour of physician assisted suicide and euthanasia. The plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
  • The Catholic Civil Rights League, Faith and Freedom Alliance and the Protection of Conscience Project were jointly granted intervener status in Carter by the Supreme Court of Canada.  The joint factum voiced concern that legalization of physician assisted suicide and euthanasia would likely adversely affect physicians and health care workers who object to the procedures for reasons of conscience.  The factum was supplemented by a ten minute oral presentation.
    Factum | Backgrounder
 

Supreme Court of Canada orders legalization of physician assisted suicide - AND euthanasia
Physicians unwilling to kill already face demands that they find someone who will

  • Sean Murphy* | In a 9-0 ruling released on 6 February, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down two sections of Canada’s Criminal Code "insofar as they prohibit physician-assisted death" in circumstances outlined by the Court. It appears that most or all of the major media outlets understood this to mean that the Court had legalized physician assisted suicide. . . the ruling not only permits physician assisted suicide, but physician administered euthanasia. . .
    Full Text
 

Decriminalization of assisted suicide and the violation of our rights

  • Albertos Polizogopoulos* | In October, the Supreme Court of Canada heard the Carter case, where parties are challenging Criminal Code prohibitions on physician assisted suicide in the hopes of decriminalizing it. If they're successful, it will impact more than just physicians. . .
    Full Text
 

Amir Attaran and the elves
A law professor makes much ado

  • Sean Murphy* |  . . . University of Ottawa law professor Amir Attaran asserts that the "corrosive hostility" of the Canadian Medical Association to "physician-assisted dying" is evident in its "cowardly and stupid" position on the procedure. . . In his telling, ever since the Court ignored the threat and struck down the law, the CMA has been acting like a "sore loser," trying to persuade physicians not to participate. . . And he complains that the CMA won't force physicians unwilling to kill patients or help them commit suicide to find someone who will. . .
    Full Text
 

A "uniquely Canadian approach" to freedom of conscience
Provincial-Territorial Experts recommend coercion to ensure delivery of euthanasia and assisted suicide
Recommendations designed to broaden and maximize impact of Supreme Court ruling

  • Sean Murphy* |  The Experts' recommendations are intended to extend and maximize the impact of the Carter ruling. They will effectively require all institutions, facilities, associations, organizations and individuals providing either health care or residential living for elderly, handicapped or disabled persons to become enablers of euthanasia and assisted suicide. This will entail suppression or significant restriction of fundamental freedoms. . .
    Full Text
 

Jewish physicians' freedom of conscience and religion and the Carter Case

  • Charles Wagner*, Adam Hummel* | How does the decision in the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) in Carter v. Canada (Attorney General)1 ("Carter") impact on the religious Jewish doctor? Will this landmark decision bring into conflict these doctors' freedom of conscience and religion with their professional obligations? The Carter case sets aside federal criminal laws as they relate to physician assisted suicide. It stands for the proposition that individuals who are suffering unbearably have a constitutional right to a physician-assisted suicide.
    Full Text

Re: "Abortion: Ensuring Access"

  • In July, 2006, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published a guest editorial by Sanda Rodgers of the Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, and Jocelyn Downie, of the Health Law Institute, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.  The editorial appears to have been an attempt to bully objecting physicians who refuse to refer patients for abortion by menacing assertions about legal and ethical obligations.  The CMAJ is a publication of the Canadian Medical Association, which, however, asserts that its contents do not necessarily represent the views of the Association.
    Commentary (Ethics)

Re: Draft Code of Ethics for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians

Yet More Pharmacists Who Don't Understand Ethics:  This Time Ontario

  • Iain T. Benson* | . . . For pharmacists and pharmacy technicians the accommodation of religious belief and conscience guaranteed by Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms will be suspended should this principle go ahead as drafted. This is not the approach taken by doctors and the Canadian Medical Association would not endorse this blunt and unfair kind of principle. . .
    Full Text

Letter to Minister of Health (Ontario)

  • Protection of Conscience Project | . . .I understand that the Ontario College of Pharmacists has made a recommendation to the OHPRAC to the effect that freedom of conscience ought to be denied to pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. I am advised by concerned pharmacists that those who would have objected to this were unaware that the College was contemplating such a recommendation and were not consulted about it. . .
    Full Text

Re:  “Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code”

  • The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario is the regulatory and licensing authority for physicians and surgeons practising in Ontario, Canada.  In February, 2008, the Ontario Human Rights Commission recommended that the exercise of freedom of conscience by physicians be restricted.  The College then drafted a policy that demanded that Ontario physicians sacrifice their freedom of conscience to avoid prosecution by Ontario's human rights apparatus.
    Commentary (Ethics)

Freedom of Conscience and Human Rights

  • Michelle Davis* | A series of Bioethics Matters will look at the Ontario Human Rights Commission, the Ontario Human Rights Code, and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to explore the issues of religious discrimination, the right to be free from discrimination based on creed (religion), and the freedom of conscience and religion. . .
    Full Text
 

The New Inquisitors

  • Sean Murphy* | . . . OHRC agents have broad powers to enter private property without warrant, and can, without warrant, search premises, examine, measure, photograph the area and and seize they think relevant to the investigation. . . police can be called upon to assist, using force if need be. . .All of this for the purpose of investigating, not unlawful conduct, but mere "tension or conflict," or conditions that might lead to either. In contrast, Canadian police have far less power to investigate criminal offences - including murder. . .
    Full Text

Re:  Redefining the Practice of Medicine

Euthanasia in Quebec
An Act Respecting End of Life Care (June, 2014)

  • Sean Murphy* | Part 1: Overview - An Act Respecting End-of-Life Care ("ARELC") is intended to legalize euthanasia by physicians in the province of Quebec.  It replaces the original Bill 52, the subject of a previous commentary by the Project.  The original text of the Bill 52 did not define medical aid in dying (MAD), but ARELC now makes it clear that Quebec physicians may provide euthanasia under the MAD protocol.  . .
    Part 1
  • Part 2: ARELC in detail - An Act Respecting End-of-Life Care ("ARELC") is intended to legalize euthanasia by physicians in the province of Quebec.  It replaces the original Bill 52, the subject of a previous commentary by the Project. ARELC purports to establish a right to euthanasia for a certain class of patients by including it under the umbrella of "end-of-life care." . . .
    Part 2
  • Part 3: Evolution or Slippery Slope? - Euthanasia laws frequently include guidelines and safeguards intended to prevent abuse.  Eligibility criteria are the most basic guidelines or safeguards.  In considering their stability, it is important to consider not only the elasticity of existing statutory provisions, but recommendations for expansion that might ultimately result in changes to the law. . .
    Part 3
  • Part 4: The Problem of Killing - The original text of Bill 52 did not define "medical aid dying" (MAD), but it was understood that, whatever the law actually said, it was meant to authorize physicians to kill patients who met MAD guidelines.  The Minister of Health admitted that it qualifed as homicide, while others acknowledged that MAD meant intentionally causing the death of a person, and that its purpose was death. . .
    Part 4
  • Part 5: An Obligation to Kill - Statistics from jurisdictions where euthanasia and/or assisted suicide are legal suggest that the majority of physicians do not participate directly in the procedures.  Statistics in Oregon and Washington state indicate that the proportion of licensed physicians directly involved in assisted suicide is extremely small. . .
    Part 5
  • Part 6: Participation in Killing - It appears that, even where euthanasia or assisted suicide is legal, the majority of physicians do not actually provide the services.  However, by establishing a purported legal "right" to euthanasia, ARELC generates a demand that physicians kill their patients, despite the high probability that a majority of physicians will not do so. . .
    Part 6
  • Part 7: Refusing to Kill - It is important identify problems that the Act poses for those who object to euthanasia for reasons of conscience, and to consider how objecting health care workers might avoid or respond to coercion by the government and the state medical and legal establishments . . .
    Part 7
  • Part 8: Hospitality and Lethal Injection - Under the Act Respecting End of Life Care (ARELC) palliative care hospices may permit euthanasia under the MAD protocol on their premises, but they do not have to do so.  Patients must be advised of their policy before admission.  The government included another section of ARELC to provide the same exemption for La Michel Sarrazin, a private hospital.  The exemptions were provided for purely pragmatic and political reasons. . .
    Part 8
  • Part 9: Codes of Ethics and Killing - Refusing to participate, even indirectly, in conduct believed to involve serious ethical violations or wrongdoing is the response expected of physicians by professional bodies and regulators.  It is not clear that Quebec legislators or professional regulators understand this. . .
    Part 9
  • Quebec Euthanasia Guidelines: Practice guide issued by Quebec health care profession regulators (August, 2015)

EUROPEAN UNION

Re:  PACE Report:
"The Problem of Unregulated Use of Conscientious Objection"

PACE Resolution on Restricting Conscientious Objection Endangers Freedom of Conscience of Medical Practitioners

  • European Centre for Law and Justice* | . . .The ECLJ must warn the members of PACE that several recommendations of the resolution are direct and serious violations of the freedom of conscience of medical practitioners, as guaranteed by European and International law. . .
    Full Text

Protection of Conscience Project Submission to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

  • . . .Considering the Report from this broader perspective, as we do here, it becomes apparent that its recommendations are offensive to human freedom and dignity and repugnant to fundamental principles of liberal democracy. . .[
    Full Text

Europe's Choice on Conscience Protection

  • Matthew Schmitz* | This Thursday the Council of Europe . . .will vote on a resolution and series of recommendations on conscience protection. . . .It would create guidelines that encourage member states to force doctors to perform abortions in some circumstances and to make referrals for them in every circumstance. . . .it is an all-out assault on conscience and community. . .
    Full Text

Medicine, Strasbourg, and conscientious objection
European Court of Human Rights decision

  • Julian Sheather* | . . .Conscientious objection is a live issue in medicine. . . Given the prevailing political pluralism-given the co-existence in our culture of different value systems-to what extent should medicine accommodate such objections? Should those whose consciences differ be treated differently? What forms of conscientious objection should be tolerated and on the basis of what criteria?
    Full Text [Legal Commentary]

UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief
Favours of a Right to Conscientious Objection in the Context of Abortion and Euthanasia

  • European Centre for Law and Justice | On the occasion of a conference organized by the ECLJ at UN headquarters in Geneva, Professor Heiner Bielefeldt, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, spoke in favor of the right of medical staff to refuse to participate in performing an abortion or euthanasia. He mentioned the case of a midwife who was harshly sentenced in Sweden for having refused to participate in an abortion and was forced into "professional exile." . . .
    Full Text

IRELAND

Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013

Why abortion bill is a prime example of moral weakness

  • Fr. Vincent Twomey* |  . . . This legal injunction offends against one very specific, universal moral perception which, in the academic discipline of ethics, has been articulated most clearly in the "principle of co-operation". . . one should not knowingly co-operate in what will cause serious harm to another person that is foreseen and unavoidable.
    Full Text

PHILIPPINES

Philippines "RH Act" of 2012

  • Sean Murphy* |  . . .  the exercise of freedom of conscience is made impossible or ridiculous, and exposes those who claim the exemption to prosecution for human rights violations. . . it is not clear whether this part of the bill has been deliberately constructed as an obstacle to conscientious objection, or if it is simply the product of appalling legislative draftsmanship.
    Full Text
  • Appendix "A" |. . . If the Philippines population management policies and programmes have had no measureable impact on population growth, they have produced one notable outcome. The notion that the government should manage population growth and instruct the population in fertility control and "responsible parenthood" has become part of the normal social, political and health care landscape in the Philippines. Moreover, an infrastructure of familiar government ministries, offices and officials has been established throughout the country to give effect to government policies. . .
    Full Text
     
  • The "RH Act" (2012)  in brief |  Annotated Text of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012
    Full Text
  • Supreme Court of the Philippines Decision: 2014

Philippines "RH Bill" of 2011: the shape of things to come?

  • Sean Murphy* | . . . the exercise of freedom of conscience is made impossible or ridiculous, and exposes those who claim the exemption to prosecution for human rights violations. It is not clear whether this parts of the bills has been deliberately constructed as an obstacle to conscientious objection, or has simply been badly drafted. . .
    Full text
     
  • The "RH Bill" (2011)  in brief |  Annotated Consolidated Text of the Reproductive Health Bill (HB4244)
    Full Text

RWANDA

Proposed Rwandan law would legalize abortion, make conscientious objection illegal

Law Governing Reproductive Health

  • Sean Murphy* |  . . .  Rwanda's proposed Reproductive Health Bill: text and commentary. With respect to freedom of conscience, the oppressive power of the proposed law is manifestly clear. A particularly draconian feature of the bill is Article 4(14), which would prohibit any expression of opposition to the bill or to anything it advocates.
    Full Text

UNITED KINGDOM

Abortion law reform and conscientious objection in the United Kingdom

  • Jacky Engel* | Jacky Engel reviews the legal history of abortion in the United Kingdom from 'Lord Ellenborough's Act' of 1803, though most of her attention is directed to developments beginning with the Bourne case of 1939. Ms. Engel's discussion of the parliamentary debates in 1967 is reproduced below because of its references to conscientious objection.
    Full Text
 

Conscientious Objection to Abortion: Ethics, Polemics and Law

  • Charles Foster* | The pro-abortion lobby has announced the latest phase in its offensive. Marie Stopes International wants to force GP surgeries to display lists indicating which doctors in the practice will refer women for abortion, and the pressure group Doctors for a Woman's Choice on Abortion is encouraging patients to report to the GMC doctors who refuse to play any part in abortion. . .
    Full Text
 

Conscientious Objection

  • Robin Haig*  |   The article below, written by one of ALDU's officers, appeared in ALDU's Newsletter in the Winter of 1982 and considered the question of conscientious objection to abortion and how this might affect the position of doctors.
    Full Text

Conscientious objection and the worrying implications of the Glasgow midwives case

  • Philippa Taylor* | The right for health professionals to exercise their conscientious objection to participating in abortion – or indeed to choose on occasion to limit the areas in which they work in order not to be ethically compromised – has been under assault worldwide for some time now. . . Now the right for health professionals to exercise their conscientious objection has been put under even more pressure in the UK after the Supreme Court today rejected an appeal for conscientious objection for senior midwives who refused to supervise abortions performed on a labour ward. It has also delivered a controversial ruling on referrals for abortion.
    Full Text

Re: House of Lords Select Committee
on Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill

Selections from the First Report

In 2003 Lord Joffe introduced a private member's bill into Parliament, the Patient (Assisted Dying) Bill, which progressed only to second reading. In March of the following year he introduced another private member's bill (Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill). It received Second Reading and was referred to a House of Lords committee for detailed examination.  Extracts concerning conscientious objection and freedom of conscience in witness testimony and written evidence are noted below.

Examination of witnesses

  • All extracts
  • PROFESSOR JOHN HARRIS, University of Manchester, PROFESSOR SHEILA MCLEAN, Glasgow university, DR EVAN HARRIS, a Member of the House of Commons, MISS DEBORAH ANNETTS, Chief Executive, Voluntary Euthanasia Society, and MR TL BARCLAY (Q1-19; Q20-27)
  • LORD JOFFE: Explains amendment to remove requirement for referral by objecting physician. (Q70-79)
  • Witnesses: DR MICHAEL WILKS, Chairman, Medical Ethics Committee, DR VIVIENNE NATHANSON, Director of Professional Activities, British Medical Association, PROFESSOR SIR GRAEME CATTO, President, and MS JANE O'BRIEN, Head of Standards, General Medical Council, examined. (Q281-299; Q300-319) (Q340-353)
  • Witnesses: DR DAVID COLE, BARONESS GREENGROSS, a Member of the House, PROFESSOR RAYMOND TALLIS, DR GEORG BOSSHARD, and DR CAROLE DACOMBE, (Q1920-1939) (Q1940-1959)
  • Witnesses: MS MICHELE WATES, DR JIM GILBERT, PROFESSOR JOHN FINNIS and DR FIONA RANDALL (Q2020-2039)

Written evidence

The bill included an exemption for conscientious objectors (Clause 7) which required an objecting physician refer a patient to a colleague willing to process a euthanasia request. This elicited protests during the examination of witnesses and inwritten evidence and an adverse judgement from the Joint Committee on Human Rights, as a result of which Lord Joffe agreed to remove the provision for mandatory referral.

Clause 7 (from the Bill)

From Chapter 4 (from the report)

From Chapter 7 (from the report)

Re: House of Lords & Commons Joint Committee On Human Rights

 


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