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Protection of Conscience Project

Service, not Servitude
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October-December, 2011


28 December, 2011
Continued vigilance urged in New Jersey

Congressman Chris Smith, who supported objecting nurses against the hospital run by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey when it attempted to involve them in abortions, states that the hospital should adopt transparent policies to ensure that freedom of conscience will continue to be respected in the institution. A hospital spokesman responded that they are satisfied with the agreement reached with the nurses, and that the hiring of additional nurses allows the hospital to ensure access to abortion while accommodating freedom of conscience for those who object to it. [National Catholic Register]

23 December, 2011
Hospital reaches agreement with objecting nurses

The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey has agreed not to replace objecting nurses who have filed suit against the University Hospital, or reduce their hours. The nurses have agreed to protect patients in an emergency until someone else can attend to assist. The hospital has been warned by the court that it is not free to penalize them, assign them to work abortion cases, or otherwise attempts to require them to assist with abortions. [News release]

21 December, 2011
Evangelical college sues US federal government for violating freedom of conscience

Colorado Christian University (CCU) has begun a civil suit against the US federal government for suppression of religious freedom and freedom of conscience. While the university does not object to paying for insurance coverage for contraception, it does object to paying for coverage of drugs or devices that could have embryocidal or abortifacient effects, even if they are described as contraceptives. [New release]

60 non-Catholic groups write President to defend of freedom of conscience

Representatives of 60 non-Catholic groups have sent a letter to President Barak Obama expressing their solidarity with Catholics and Catholic institutions and their own objections to the Obama administration's plans to force employers to pay for insurance for contraceptives, embryocides and abortifacients, even if they object to such drugs or services for reasons of conscience. "Mr. President, religious organizations beyond the Catholic community have deep moral objections to a requirement that their health insurance plans must cover abortifacients. . . object to the current narrow exemption which puts them outside the definition of "religious employers" . . . object to any revision of the exemption that would limit it to churches and denominationally affiliated organizations."

15 December, 2011
British General Medical Council drawing up guidelines for assisted suicide

Britain's General Medical Council (GMC) is considering how it should deal with physicians who are accused of assisting people to commit suicide, but who are not prosecuted. The problem has arisen because Crown Counsel in England are permitted to prosecute only people whose conduct violatesguidelines that are more permissive than the criminal law, which still technically prohibits assisted suicide. Assisting suicide in Scotland is not illegal, though the facts in some cases might lead to prosecution for murder. In effect, police and prosecutors have become regulators of the practice. If they decide not to prosecute a physician who has assisted a suicide, the GMC is left with the problem of what, if anything, should be done by way of discipline. In addition, some kinds of more indirect assistance that would not support prosecution might give rise to complaints of professional misconduct. [The Guardian; Daily Mail]

7 December, 2011
Assisted suicide initiative in conflict with physicians in Massachusetts

75% of the delegates at a meeting of the Massachusetts Medical Society have reaffirmed the policy of the Society against physician-assisted suicide. [News release] An initiative supporting an assisted suicide bill has secured enough signatures to bring the bill to a ballot in 2012. Although the bill states that participation in the procedure must be "entirely voluntary," participation is defined to exclude referral. Thus, the bill would, if enacted, support compulsory referral by physicians for assisted suicide, something that would be incompatible with the position of the Massachusetts Medical Society. It would also require objecting institutions not only to permit referral, but would require them to permit physicians in their facilities to contract for off-premises provision of assisted suicide. [See Massachusetts Initiative Petition (2011-2012)]

4 December, 2011
Planned Parenthood opposes freedom of conscience in Florida

A bill in the Florida State Senate that will ensure that insurance plans covering contraceptives will not impose long waiting periods or steep co-payments on employees. Nancy Detert'sBill 598 includes a protection of conscience provision provision to ensure that religious employers are not forced to cover contraceptives that are contrary to their religious convictions. However, Planned Parenthood is protesting the exemption, demanding that employers be forced to pay for procedures or services they believe to be wrong. [Florida Independent]

3 December, 2011
Hospital hires additional staff to cover for objecting nurses

The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey will hire additional staff to perform work related to abortions that 12 of 16 nurses working at the Same Day Surgery Unit at the University Hospital refuse to perform for reasons of conscience. [The Star Ledger]


30 November, 2011
Physicians in United Kingdom warned against facilitating assisted suicide

The Medical Defence Union in the United Kingdom, the organization that defends physicians accused of malpractice or unethical conduct, has warned its members that they could be prosecuted if they provide medical records to a patient when they have reason to believe that the records will be used to access assisted suicide. The warning is found in a case study in the MDU Journal and is reviewed (and corrected in part) by Dr. Peter Saunders in National Right to Life News Today. It is of interest because of the contrast it provides to the frequent dismissal of the notion that referral and other forms of indirect facilitation of procedures may be morally significant.

29 November, 2011
Indonesia considers population control law

The government of Indonesia is considering the possibility of imposing legal limits to population growth. It is thought that local governments would become more active in population control if such legislation were passed. Government enforced regulations restricting births would have a significant impact on health care professionals who object to some forms of birth control or abortion. [Jakarta Post]

28 November, 2011
Freedom of conscience for pharmacists on trial in Washington

A trial begins today in Washington State in the case of Stormans v. Selecky. The plaintiffs include a family-owned pharmacy and two individual pharmacists, who have religious objections to dispensing Plan B and ella. Their religious beliefs forbid them from dispensing these drugs because they can operate as embryocides. A Washington State regulation demands that they dispense the drugs despite their objections. [Media Advisory]

24 November, 2011
Group encourages complaints against objecting physicians

Abortions have not been performed on Prince Edward Island for almost thirty years. Women seeking abortions must go to Halifax, Nova Scotia, or Fredericton, New Brunswick. The province will pay for abortions only if done in a Halifax hospital and if a woman is referred by two physicians. Women who have abortions in private clinics in Halifax or Fredericton must pay for the procedures themselves and are not reimbursed. The P.E.I. Reproductive Rights Organization (PEIRRO) was formed to lobby for easier access to abortion. Proposals least likely to impact freedom of conscience for health care workers involve dropping the requirement for physician referrals, paying for abortions done in clinics and paying the associated travel costs. However, PEIRRO also encourages people to make complaints of professional misconduct against physicians who decline to refer for abortion for reasons of conscience. [See Abortion and Prince Edward Island]

23 November, 2011
Royal Society of Canada recommends legalization of assisted suicide, euthanasia, and compulsory referral

The Royal Society of Canada, which describes itself as "a national organization of distinguished scholars, artists and scientists," has published a report advocating legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia. The report also recommends that objecting health care professionals be forced to facilitate the services by referral. The report is the product of a 'panel of experts' it commissioned to consider the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia. Of the six experts, four (Johannes van Delden, Jocelyn Downie, Ugo Schuklenk, and Sheila McLean) had previously advocated legalization of the procedures [LifeSite News], and Downie has repeatedly argued that objecting physicians should be forced to refer for abortion. [See Abortion: Ensuring Access]

22 November, 2011
New Jersey Hospital files brief opposing injunction supporting objectors

The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey has filed a brief opposing an injunction being sought to protect nurses who object to participating in abortions. The brief claims that nurses have not been made to assist with the procedures, nor will they be asked to do so, but have only been asked to provide pre-operative and post-operative care that some of them have provided in the past without objection. The brief notes that the court rejected an attempt by lawyers for the plaintiffs to prevent discussion of accommodation, and that 9 of the 12 plaintiffs have indicated that they are willing to meet to discuss the issue.[Brief]

21 November, 2011
Attempt to discuss accommodation of objecting nurses rejected

Lawyers representing 12 nurses who object to abortion have returned to court alleging that the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey is attempting to impose adverse changes in their employment or assignments. The new complaint arises from a letter to the nurses asking them to attend meetings to discuss accommodation of their concerns. [News release]

New Zealand Medical Council accepts ruling on freedom of conscience

The New Zealand Medical Council has withdrawn its appeal of the judgment of Justice MacKenzie given in the High Court in Wellington in December 2010. The judgment held that a medical practitioner who objected to abortion for reasons of conscience was not obliged to refer for the procedure. [News release]

18 November, 2011
Most US obstetrician/gynaecologists reject ACOG definition of pregnancy

A survey of 1800 American obstetrician/gynaelecologists with a response rate of 66% found that over half of the respondents believe that pregnancy begins at conception rather than implantation. The finding is significant because it demonstrates that a significant number of practitioners reject redefinions of pregnancy proposed by groups like the by institutions like the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG). [Reuters] (Chung GS, Lawrence RE, Rasinski KA, et al. Obstetrician-gynecologists' beliefs about when pregnancy begins. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2011;206)

17 November, 2011
US politician dismisses "this conscience thing"

Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader (Democratic Party) in the US House of Representatives, told a Washington Post Reporter that she opposes freedom of conscience for health care workers opposed to abortion because they would allow women to "die on the floor." She complained that abortion opponents "have this conscience thing." The reporter did not ask Pelosi, who purports to be a "devout Catholic," if she would also characterize longstanding American support for this fundamental freedom as "a conscience thing." [Washington Post]

16 November, 2011
Opposition to Philippines Reproductive Health bill preventing passage

Philippines House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II states that the controversial Reproductive Health Bill is unlikely to come to a vote before 2012 because, for the time being, there are enough members of congress opposed to it to prevent its passage. [Philippine Daily Inquirer] Protection of conscience provisions in the bill are seriously deficient. [See Philippines "RH Bill" of 2011: the shape of things to come?]

14 November, 2011
US Congressman supports objecting New Jersey nurses

Appearing at a news conference in front of the hospital run by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Representative Chris Smith described the hospital's policy on abortion as "coercive," "highly unethical" and "blatantly illegal." [News release] One of the 12 plaintiff nurses present said that one of them was told by the nurse manager, "You just have to catch the baby's head. Don't worry, it's already dead." [The Star-Ledger] A statement issued at the news conference by University representatives said, "No nurse is compelled to have direct involvement in, and/or attendance in the room at the time of, a procedure to which she or he objects based on his/her cultural values, ethics and/or religious beliefs." [National Catholic Register]

Most physicians in British Columbia not supportive of assisted suicide

Dr. Douglas McGregor, regional director of palliative care for the Vancouver Coast Health Authority, has testified that physicians value and esteem life "above everything else." Identifying that as his own conviction, he stated that he did not think that many of his colleagues would take a different view. Dr. McGregor was testifying during a trial in British Columbia Supreme Court initiated by plaintiffs who want physician assisted suicide legalized. He agreed that physicians could comply with ethical guidelines should the law be struck down, but added, "I'm not sure that's the right thing to be doing in our society." [The Province] It does not appear that the question or his answer contemplated the position of objecting physicians who might refuse to adhere to ethical guidelines demanding that they facilitate euthanasia.

13 November, 2011
Australian physicians form lobby group for euthanasia

Doctors for Voluntary Euthanasia Choice has been formed in Australia by physicians supporting legalization of the procedure. The group plans to make submissions to the parliaments of South Australia and Tasmania. The Australian Medical Association has no position on euthanasia because physicians are divided on the issue. [Western Advocate] The group's website states, "Many professional medical societies maintain a stance of neutrality towards voluntary euthanasia to reflect the range of views among their members and to facilitate each member acting according to their own conscience."

12 November, 2011
Complaints against exercise of freedom of conscience by pharmacist in UK

A pharmacist at a Boots Pharmacy in Middleton Grange Shopping Centre, Hartlepool, England, has been criticized for refusing to dispense the morning after pill for reasons of conscience. The customer was directed to another store, but said that she did not have an opportunity to have the prescription filled until two days later. She was particularly angry because the same pharmacist had just provided methadone to a heroin addict. Store management noted that the pharmacist acted in accordance with the General Pharmaceutical Council's Standard of Conduct, Ethics and Performance, which requires objecting pharmacists to refer customers to other providers. [Hartlepool Mail] Those criticizing the pharmacist insisted, in effect, that the pharmacist should have acted according to their moral judgement rather than his own.

11 November, 2011
New Jersey hospital accused of lying

A lawyer for the Alliance Defence Fund (ADF) has accused the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey of lying about the abortion policy at the University Hospital. Responding to an e-mail from a lawyer representing the University, Matt Bowman states that the ADF went to court to prevent two of the objecting nurses from being forced to assist with abortions, which seems to refer to assignments to pre-operative and post-operative care. It appears that the position of the hospital is that such assignments do not amount to assisting with abortion[National Review].

10 November, 2011
Belmont Abbey sues US federal government for attack on freedom of conscience

Assisted by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Belmont Abbey, a small Catholic liberal arts college in North Carolina, has filed a civil suit against the US government because of a regulation that would force it to pay for insurance coverage for contraceptives, embryocides and abortifacients for students or terminate all health insurance plans for employees or students. "The mandate is nothing other than a deliberate attack by the government on the religious beliefs of millions of Americans," said Becket Fund counsel. "In the end, the government is forcing religious orders and believers to pay for services they find immoral or pay a stiff fine." [News release]

9 November, 2011
Widespread neglect of elderly alleged at hospitals in United Kingdom

The Patients Association in the United Kingdom has issued what the Daily Mail calls "a damning report . . .that has revealed a catalogue of abuse" in British state hospitals. As a result of pressure from the Daily Mail and the Patients Association, the Care Quality Commission conducted hospital inspections and found that "in a fifth of them the care was so bad they were breaking the law." [Daily Mail] In such circumstances, it is possible that some health care workers would find themselves in conflicts of conscience as a result of the difference between their moral standards and those of the institution.

7 November, 2011
IVF mother admits error in having child at 57

A woman who used in vitro fertilization to achieve a pregnancy at age 57 now concedes that her critics were right in asserting that she was too old to have a child. Her relationship with the father of the child ended because of the "shock" of having a baby. [Irish Independent] The story illustrates the kind of foreseeable problem that may cause some health care workers to refuse artificial reproduction in some circumstances for reasons of conscience, but which might not be taken into account by an adjudicator fixated on enhancing the personal autonomy of a patient at the expense of an objecting health care worker.

3 November, 2011
Judge issues temporary injunction to protect objecting nurses

A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order that prohibits a hospital run by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey from forcing any of 12 objecting nurses who have sued the facility to participate in training or services related to abortions. [News release]

Ontario experts seek mandatory abortion training, referral

The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care in Ontario has fully funded and published a report from an "expert panel" with recommendations to improve abortion services in the province. The report, dated May, 2011, states that the panel had met for a year and based the report on "their own expertise, key stakeholder consultation" and a study that was still in preparation. No information was provided about how the members of the "expert panel" were selected, nor about the "key stakeholders" consulted. Among the goals the report recommends: mandatory abortion training for medical and nursing students, and mandatory referral and facilitation of abortion by all medical practitioners, including those who object to the procedure. [Report]

2 November, 2011
Evidence taken at hearing of government attack on freedom of conscience

The US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Sub-Committee on Health held a hearing on the subject, Do New Health Care Mandates Threaten Conscience Rights and Access to Care? In his opening remarks, the Chairman of the committee, Joseph R. Pitts, commented that "we should universally support the notion that the federal government should be prohibited from taking coercive actions to force people to abandon their religious principles."

William J. Cox President and CEO of the Alliance of Catholic Health Care, testified that the religious exemption clause in the HHS regulation violates the right of churches and religious institutions "to define and govern themselves free from government interference. . .by redefining Catholic institutional ministries in a manner that excludes central elements of their faith." The criticism was backed by Dr. David L. Stevens of the Christian Medical Association, who complained that the exemption "is meaningless to conscientiously objecting health care professionals, insurers and patients." The Chancellor of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington noted that "tens of thousands of non-Catholics" are served by Archdiocesan facilities. "No one is required to become Catholic in order to receive these services," she said. "Yet this mandate would require us to violate our religious beliefs to serve them." [National Catholic Reporter]

1 November, 2011
12 nurses sue New Jersey hospital for forced participation in abortion

The Alliance Defense Fund has filed suit against a hospital run by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey that alleges that the hospital is requiring 12 objecting nurses to assist with abortions, contrary to federal and state law. [News release]

US Cardinal protests federal government attack on freedom of conscience

Writing to Joseph R. Pitts, Chairman of the US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Sub-Committee on Health, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo thanked him for scheduling a hearing into the effects of a new federal regulation. The Cardinal observed that the protection of conscience exemption in the regulation is wholly inadequate. "Jesus and the apostles would not be 'religious enough' under such a test, as they served and healed people of different religions," he wrote. [USCCB news release]


27 October, 2011
Experts suggest organ harvesting without declaration of death

Two experts have proposed that the practice of waiting until death has been pronounced before organs are harvested should be dropped, and that new standards should permit the removal of vital organs from living patients. Instead, they propose that guidelines should ensure that donors are "beyond suffering" and that their autonomy is respected. The suggestion generated a strong adverse response. [National Post]

Contraception and abortion services will be mandatory in state health system

The Secretary of State for the United Kingdom states that it is the British government plans to pass regulations that will required local health authorities to provide "appropriate access to contraception and abortion services." [Daily Hansard] It is not clear what effect this may have on conscientious objectors who are employed by the health authorities.

26 October, 2011
Scots MP plans another attempt to legalize euthanasia

Independent Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald is planning to introduce a new version of an assisted suicide bill that was rejected by the Scottish Parliament last year.[Scotsman] Absent sound protection of conscience legislation, legalization of the procedure would likely cause problems for health care workers unwilling to participate.

Catholic Bishop testifies before Judiciary Committee

The Chair of the USCCB's Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, Bishop Lori of Bridgeport, testified before the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee about the threats to freedom of conscience and religion posed by policies and regulations now being implemented by the US federal government. Citing a number of "serious threats to religious liberty," he warned that "they represent only the most recent instances in a broader trend of erosion of religious liberty in the United States."[Testimony]

25 October, 2011
UN bureaucrat urges decriminalization of abortion as matter of right

Special Rapporteur on Health Anand Grover has submitted a report to the UN General Assembly demanding the removal of all legal restrictions on abortion, claiming that access to abortion is required by human rights law. The Holy See reminded the General Assembly that no right to abortion exists in international law. [European Life Network] The notion that access to a particular service or procedure is a 'human right' would have a significant effect on freedom of conscience in health care.

21 October, 2011
US Senator opposes Obama regulation, supports freedom of conscience

American Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania has joined those supporting the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011, which would ensure freedom of conscience for religious health care providers whose beliefs conflict with demands to provide services arising from US health care reform. [Post Gazette]

20 October, 2011
UK nurses warned not to discuss assisted suicide or euthanasia

The Royal College of Nursing plans to issue guidelines to remind nurses that it is illegal to offer information about assisted dying, including contact information for those willing to provide the procedure, in case the provision of information might be seen as 'encouragement'. Nurses will be instructed that if confronted by a patient who expresses a wish to die that they should advise them that there is "nothing they can do to help." [Daily Mail] The guidance contrasts sharply with demands for referral for controversial procedures by conscientious objectors.

19 October, 2011
New Zealand decision in favour of freedom of conscience

A case in New Zealand indicates the importance of protection of conscience legislation. A technician working for the Canterbury District Health Board was threatened with dismissal if she did not help to prepare instruments to be used for abortions. She refused to do so for reasons of conscience and sought advice from Right to Life New Zealand, which brought the case to the attention of the Abortion Supervisory Committee. As a result, the Committee wrote to all district health boards in the country to remind them of the protection of conscience provisions in New Zealand law. The employer withdrew the threat of dismissal.[News release]

18 October, 2011
Lesbian couple suppress puberty in 11 year old son to facilitate sex change decision

An eleven year old boy in California is being given hormone blockers by his lesbian guardians to arrest puberty because they say that he wants to be a girl. Their plan is to continue delaying puberty until he is 14 or 15 and makes a decision about a sex change. [] The case illustrates the kinds of demands that can lead to conflicts of conscience among health care workers, especially in jurisdictions that propose that there is a legal 'right' to such services through state health care.

17 October, 2011
Obama administration cuts funding to Catholics for refusing contraceptives

The Obama administration has refused to continue funding an anti-human trafficking programme run by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops Migration and Refugee Services because the organization will not provide abortion, contraception or sterilizations. Steve Wagner, who directed the anti-human-trafficking program at the Department of Health and Human Services from 2003-2006, described the USCCB program as "hands down the best agency working to assist victims of human trafficking in the U.S." [National Catholic Register]

15 October, 2011
Hospitals in UK use secret DNR orders to end patient lives

A spot check of 100 National Health Service hospitals by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in the United Kingdom has found that in at least five hospitals, staff routinely completed do-not-resuscitate orders for elderly patients without notifying the patients or their families. Numerous cases of neglect were also documented.[The Telegraph] Such circumstances could lead to conflicts of conscience among staff who are concerned about the welfare of patients but expected to comply with the standards actually in effect in such locations.

14 October, 2011
Bill passed in US House supports freedom of conscience

The US House of Representatives has passed HR 358, a bill that includes protection of conscience measures and restricts the use of federal funds in paying for insurance coverage for abortion. President Obama will veto the bill if it passes Congress. [National Journal]

13 October, 2011
Philippines Senate puts controversial bill on hold

The Reproductive Health Bill has stalled in the Philippines Senate because of the need to begin discussion of the national budget. Debate on the controversial bill is expected to resume in the new year. [Philippine Daily Inquirer]

California Catholic Colleges oppose Obama administration demand to pay for contraceptives

A number of Catholic Colleges in the San Francisco Bay area are protesting the federal regulation that would force them to pay for insurance coverage for contraceptives. Saint Mary's College, the University of San Francisco and Santa Clara University were among those who sent letters to the Department of Health and Human Services. The regulation is opposed by an association representing 200 Catholic post-secondary institutions, but some schools that identify themselves as Catholic are reported to have been paying for contraceptive coverage even before the regulation was announced. [Contra Costa Times]

12 October, 2011
20 Catholic leaders protest attack on freedom of conscience by Obama administration

In a joint statement published in two Capitol Hill newspapers, the leaders of 20 national Catholic organizations have protested the "preventive services" regulation issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and called for legal protection of freedom of conscience in health care.

6 October, 2011
2012 presidential candidate supports freedom of conscience

Ron Paul, who is seeking nomination as a Republican candidate for the US Presidency in 2012, has announced that he supports those seeking "authentic opportunity" to refuse to provide services or procedures like abortion or contraception for reasons of conscience. [News Release]

US Senators support freedom of conscience against Obama administration

Nebraska Senators Mike Johanns and Utah Senator Orrin Hatch and 26 other US Senators have sent letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebellius concerning her department's intention to force employers to pay for insurance for morally controversial services despite conscientious objection. [News release] Commenting on the letter in an editorial in the York News-Times, Senator Johanns noted that it asks that the regulation be rewritten "so that no organization finding the rule morally objectionable is mandated to follow it."

Individual vs. institutional freedom of conscience at issue in US Supreme Court case

The US Federal Government is contesting the view that there is a constitutional "ministerial exemption" for churches that prevents the government from intervening in disputes between ecclesiastical ministers and their superiors. Justices of the court commented that the position of the US Solicitor General was "extraordinary," inasmuch as she proposed that the case before the court be dealt with as if the dispute concerned a labour union and its members, without reference to clauses in the US Constitution guaranteeing the free exercise of religion and non-establishment of religion. The plaintiff and US Federal Government are asking the Supreme Court to rule that the doctrine of "ministerial exception" does not apply when it would operate to impede access to civil authorities to secure a legal right or to discharge an obligation imposed by civil law. Since the Court has previously ruled that civil law can "trump" the religious convictions of an individual, one of the questions raised by this case is whether or not civil law can also trump the convictions of a religious institution. [See the oral argument; The Atlantic]. The case is particularly significant because of the controversy surrounding the Obama administration's efforts to force Catholic institutions to cover the costs of insurance for contraceptives, potential embryocides and abortifacient drugs and devices for employees. A second case on the Supreme Court docket, Weishuhn v. Catholic Parish of Lansing, arising from a decision of the Court of Appeals in Michigan, also raises the issue of "ministerial exception."

4 October, 2011
US Congressman protests attack on freedom of conscience by federal department

Pennsylvania Congressman Tim Murphy has protested the Department of Health and Human Services regulation that will force employers to provide insurance for contraceptives and other services, even if they object to the services for reasons of conscience. He asks that the requirement be discarded, and that the Department acknowledge "the need to create an exemption for religious institutions . . . to ensure the rights it aims to defend are fully protected." [Letter]