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Protection of Conscience Project

Service, not Servitude
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News Commentary 2003

Letter to the Editor, Cybercast News Service
5 March, 2003

Some opponents of freedom of conscience for Wisconsin pharmacists justify their coercive views with the claim that rural residents may be deprived of certain drugs if the only pharmacist in town has moral objections to dispensing them. (Pharmacist Conscience Bill Pushed in Wisconsin, February 28, 2003).

Is there, in fact, anywhere in Wisconsin, a community in which a single pharmacist is the only available health-care professional? Such a situation seems more mythical than hypothetical. Surely, given the political will, a bit of imagination and a modicum of respect for differences of opinion, adequate access to morally controversial drugs can be arranged without forcing dissenting pharmacists to participate in dispensing them.

Sean Murphy, Administrator
Protection of Conscience Project

Letter to the Editor The Medical Post
24 January. 2003

I am writing to correct an error in a report published in July in The Medical Post. ("Swiss vote in new law making abortion legal in first trimester". 24 July, 2002, Vol. 28, No. 37). My response has been delayed by the need to consult Swiss authorities and the Swiss Catholic Bishops' Conference.

In a letter to the Project, the Swiss embassy in Canada made the following statement:

" . . . there are no more hospitals existing in Switzerland that are based on a catholic foundation; all of them are now managed by secular directors. There are, of course, medical staff with religious inclinations. . . their number, however, is constantly declining. The only remaining indication today of some hospitals' former catholic orientation are their names such as St. Anna . . . there is no more hospital in Switzerland that would truly qualify for the adjective 'catholic'. This . . . renders the information in the newspaper report inaccurate . . ."

The General Secretary of the Swiss Catholic Bishops' Conference describes this explanation as "99% true". He explained that vocations to the founding religious orders diminished to the point that the hospitals were given over to civil administration. While one or more sisters might still be working in the hospitals, they are only employees and do not usually have any managerial authority.

Sean Murphy, Administrator
Protection of Conscience Project