News Releases: 2001
20 December, 2001
For Immediate Release
The Canadian government's proposed Assisted
Human Reproduction Act lacks protection for health care workers and
others who do not want to participate in morally controversial procedures,
and erodes the customary right to trial by jury, according to a
sent earlier this month to Allan Rock, Canadian Minister of Health.
Project Administrator Sean Murphy noted
that, beyond the procedures allowed in the draft text, the bill provides
for ad hoc legalization of activities by Orders in Council, which
do not require parliamentary scrutiny or approval.
Murphy suggested that the bill would
establish an expectation of entitlement to legalized procedures, and
cautioned that problems will arise for conscientious objectors, especially
if provision of the "controlled activities" were made a
condition for federal health care grants or transfer payments.
"Experience in Canada and elsewhere
suggests that conscientious objectors will . . . be subjected to coercion
and discrimination" or "forced into expensive litigation before
human rights tribunals or courts . . . to buy the freedom that ought to
have been their birthright."
The letter requests that the bill be
amended to include protection of conscience provisions.
Murphy also expressed alarm that the bill
erodes the right to trial by jury for serious offences. He argued that it
would be more consistent with Canadian legal traditions to reduce the bill's
summary conviction penalties to bring them into line with those now
customary in criminal law.
For Immediate Release
12 September, 2001
Dr. Shahid Athar, an advisor to
the Protection of Conscience Project and President of the Islamic Medical
Association of North America, has issued the following appeal in the wake
of yesterday's tragic attacks on American cities:
Re : The Disaster Relief Work
I direct and request Muslim Physicians in New York, Washington D.C. in
particular and Muslim physicians elsewhere to do the following:
1. Help and organize local blood donation drives in Muslim communities and
direct them to proper hospitals in the area.
2. Offer emergency relief work in
the affected areas through your mosque as focal point
3. Offer social and psychological
support for the families of the victims.
4. Have a local spokesperson who
should be in touch with me and the national Muslim leadership.
5. Denounce all acts of terrorism
and uphold the sanctity of human life.
6. Pray for the innocent lives
lost and the injured and their relatives.
7. Report to the authorities and
C.A.I.R. in your area any incidents of harassment or threat against any
Muslim, or Muslim organization.
8. Protect yourself, your family,
your mosque, fellow Muslims and fellow Americans. Allah is the
best of all protectors.
Shahid Athar,MD 317-872-5159
For Immediate Release
2 June, 2001
The world's first faculty of
bioethics will begin offering first year Bachelor, Master and Doctorate
courses in October, 2001.
A two year (four semester)
bachelor's degree will offer basic interdisciplinary preparation courses
and seminars in five areas: bioethics, medicine, law, philosophy and
theology. The master's degree requires two more years (four semesters) of
study, concluding with a comprehensive final examination..
The Bioethics Faculty is an
initiative of the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum,
a Catholic ecclesiastical university centre. The faculty is
assisted by an international Scientific Council of 23 experts from 11
countries. Among them is Dr. John Fleming, Director of the Southern Cross
Bioethics Institute, and a member of the Protection of Conscience Project
Sean Murphy, Administrator of the
non_denominational Protection of Conscience Project, welcomed the
"One of the criticisms of
bioethics, as it is too often practised in North America, is that it is an
expression of the hidden faith of secularism," said Murphy. "The
unexamined beliefs of the establishment elite are often the root of their
intolerance of conscientious objectors."
"By working explicitly
within a philosophical tradition and faith perspective," he
explained, "the new faculty will illustrate that different beliefs
about the nature of the human person lead to different ethical
"Once that becomes
clear," he concluded, "we may hope to see more meaningful and
productive discourse about pluralism and freedom of conscience ."
For immediate release
Madison--A stamp of
approval was given to
Bill 307 (late Thursday),
legislation that will provide much needed job security for pharmacists who
conscientiously object to dispensing drugs or devices that can cause death
through abortion, euthanasia or physician assisted suicide.
In response to compelling testimony from several Wisconsin pharmacists,
the Assembly Family Law Committee in a 4-2 vote sent this measure on for
expected full approval of the Wisconsin Assembly. Pro-Life Wisconsin
applauds the support of committee chair Rep. Carol Owens (R-Oshkosh), who
authored the bill, as well as committee members Rep. Steve Kestell
(R-Elkhart Lake), Rep. Don Friske (R-Merrill) and Rep. Joan Wade
(R-Montello). The dissenting votes came from pro-abortion
legislative leader Rep. Terese Berceua (D-Madison) and Rep. Peggy Krusick
(D-Milwaukee), who in the past has claimed to be pro-life.
"New abortion techniques focusing on chemical means to end the lives
of a preborn babies have received FDA approval or have become more readily
available," explained Mary Matuska, Pro-Life Wisconsin legislative
was formerly relegated to a clinical setting, it is now possible to
receive life-ending drugs in a pharmacy, forcing pharmacists to be party
Opposing testimony used the scare tactic that this bill would ban birth
control. "This is not true," stated Mary Matuska.
"This bill will not make drugs such as the morning-after pill and the
birth control pill unavailable. It simply recognizes that employers
cannot force pharmacists to be directly involved in abortion, assisted
suicide and euthanasia. It recognizes that pharmacists, like doctors
and nurses, are valued health care professionals who should not be forced
to choose between their consciences and their livelihoods."
AB 307 is modelled after legislation which was enacted into law in March,
1998, in the state of South Dakota. Legislatures in Ohio, Indiana,
Kentucky and a few other states are currently considering legislation that
would recognize the rights of pharmacists not to engage in procedures that
violate their consciences.
"People who call themselves "pro-choice" should especially
understand the intent of this bill," stated Peggy Hamill, Pro-Life
Wisconsin state director.
should have the right to choose not to be complicit in the taking of
innocent human life."
Peggy Hamill, State Director, or Katherine Ribnek, Communications
Director (262) 796-1111 (daytime phone) or (414) 416-0489
For immediate release
A report released on Monday criticizes
the Ethics Advisory Committee of the College of Pharmacists of British
Columbia for publishing a prejudicial and unjustified attack on the
integrity of conscientious objectors within the profession. The report
identifies 'ethical nepotism' in the committee as a factor
contributing to misunderstanding and intolerance.
At issue are statements made last year
by the Ethics Advisory Committee in the College newsletter, the Bulletin,
which were expanded upon and amplified in a later Journal
article, written by a member of the Committee. Repeated requests that
the allegations be substantiated or withdrawn were ignored.
An access to information request filed
under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act
resulted in the production of over 240 pages of documents, but no
evidence to support the claims made in the published statements. Despite
this, the Registrar of the College of Pharmacists refused to withdraw
the statements or apologize.
The report makes a number of
recommendations to the Council of the College of Pharmacists, among them
the formulation of a policy to govern the Committee. At present, there
is no policy on the selection of its members, who lack formal
qualifications in ethics, philosophy, or related disciplines.
American Center for Law and Justice
January 24, 2001
(Cincinnati, OH) -- The American Center for Law and
Justice, an international public interest law firm, said today a federal court has cleared
the way for its lawsuit against Kmart on behalf of a pharmacist who was fired for refusing
to dispense abortion producing drugs to move forward. A federal judge in the case refused
to dismiss the suit and said that a pharmacist may sue her employer under a state
conscience law which protects persons who refuse to perform or participate in medical
procedures which result in abortion.
"This is a major victory for the rights of
conscience," said Francis J. Manion, Senior Counsel for the ACLJ who is suing Kmart
on behalf of a pharmacist. "As long as abortion is legal in this country, there will
be millions of citizens opposed to the practice on ethical and religious grounds. These
people deserve legal protection to the fullest extent possible. No one should be forced to
choose between their livelihood and their conscience. We look forward to moving forward
with our case and the upcoming trial on this most critical issue."
The case began in 1996 when Kmart fired Karen Brauer, an
Indiana pharmacist, after she refused to dispense a drug called Micronor. Micronor, a
progestin-only contraceptive, works in a significant number of patients by preventing the
implantation of a fertilized egg. According to Brauer, this means Micronor and similar
drugs, rather than preventing pregnancy; terminate a human life that has already begun.
Brauer was fired from Kmart’s Hamilton, Ohio store when she refused to sign an
agreement that she would dispense all lawfully prescribed medications regardless of her
feelings or beliefs. The ACLJ filed suit against Kmart in U.S. District Court in
Cincinnati in August 1999.
Kmart went to court in an effort to dismiss the suit. But
in an opinion issued yesterday and released to the ACLJ today, U.S. District Court Judge
Herman Weber disagreed with Kmart’s narrow reading of
state conscience statute ruling the statute "is obviously intended to allow an
individual who morally or ethically opposes abortion . . . to follow the dictates of her
conscience and refuse to participate in such procedures." The court likewise rejected
Kmart’’s arguments that the legislature did not intend the conscience law to
apply to the dispensing of a drug that sometimes prevents implantation. Judge Weber said:
"What is critical . . . is the undisputed fact that Micronor does prevent
implantation of a fertilized egg in some cases and plaintiff’s asserted belief that
this process results in abortion and is morally wrong."
Manion says the court’s decision is an important step
in protecting the rights of employees who hold religious beliefs. "This case has
enormous implications for the growing practice of chemical or drug-induced abortions.
So-called ‘emergency contraceptives’, ‘morning-after pills,’ and
RU-486 all work - not by preventing pregnancy - but by ending a human life already in
existence. With the court’s recognition of a pharmacist’s statutory exemption
from participating in such procedures, pharmacists and others have gained the ability to
protect themselves against recrimination for following the dictates of their
Manion said the court’s ruling now clears the way for
trial to begin in May. The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages against Kmart and
alleges that her firing violated both federal and state laws. At the same time, the suit
contends that as a result of Brauer's termination, she "has sustained and continues
to sustain substantial losses in earnings, retirement benefits, and other employment
benefits, and has suffered and continues to suffer damage with regard to her professional
The American Center for Law and Justice is an international
public interest law firm that focuses on constitutional issues including
pro-family and pro-life cases.