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Protection of Conscience Project

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News Releases: 2003

Wackiness Rules as Opponents of AB67 Continue Their Assault on the Conscience Rights of Health Care Professionals

Wisconsin Right to Life

For immediate release
Thursday, 22 July, 2003

Last month the Assembly overwhelmingly approved Assembly Bill 67.  This reasonable, common sense legislation would protect the conscience rights of health care professionals and facilities in the specific areas of abortion, assisted suicide, euthanasia and unethical medical experiments involving the deliberate destruction of human life.  Authored by Rep. Jean Hundertmark (R-Clintonville) and Sen. Carol Roessler (R-Oshkosh), a public hearing in the State Senate is likely in early fall.

"As AB 67 works its way through the legislative process, the opponents of the bill are so fearful the legislation will become law they have resorted to ridiculous fabrications about what the bill would do,"  said Susan Armacost, Legislative Director of Wisconsin Right to Life.  "Some falsely claim that under AB 67, medication could be denied to an AIDS patient and that the bill targets birth control and living wills.  Some legislators resorted to extremist name calling, with Rep. Sheldon Wasserman going so far as to refer to the pro-life movement as the 'Islamic Jihad of Wisconsin.'   With such wacky rhetoric being thrown around by the opponents of AB 67, it is more important than ever to have a reality check on what the bill would and would not do."

The majority of the opposition to AB 67 comes from the pro-abortion lobby, most notably Planned Parenthood, the state's largest abortion provider.  No surprise here since the pro-abortion movement has been involved in a national effort to force health care providers to participate in abortion.  In Alaska, the state supreme court ruled that some community hospitals must perform abortions against their will.  In Connecticut, a certificate of need was denied to a proposed outpatient clinic that refused to perform abortions.  Other pro-abortion "successes" have occurred in other states.

The pro-abortion lobby has even gone so far as to try to force medical programs to train students to perform abortions or lose accreditation.  In this regard, the radical pro-abortion lobby has failed, in large part, because of the diligence of the National Right to Life Committee and their state affiliates, of which Wisconsin Right to Life is one.

Should the pro-abortion activists attempt similar tactics in Wisconsin, AB 67 would protect health care professionals and facilities from involvement in abortion. The bill would also protect them from participating in the other areas outlined in the bill … assisted suicide, euthanasia and unethical research.

Even though assisted suicide and euthanasia are not legal in Wisconsin and it is unlikely at the current time that the legislature would legalize them, a court could overturn our current laws that prohibit these acts. As surely as Roe v. Wade made our laws against abortion invalid, a court could do the same thing in regard to assisted suicide or euthanasia.  Pro-euthanasia organizations have targeted Wisconsin in their efforts to strike down prohibitions against assisted suicide and euthanasia.  If that should occur, AB 67 would give the needed protections to health care professionals and facilities that want nothing to do with the deliberate taking of an individual's life.

Actions that are tantamount to assisted suicide and euthanasia sometimes occur, such as causing the death of a patient by starvation and dehydration when the patient is not dying.  For many in the health care profession, this is no different than injecting them with a deadly drug - except that it takes seven to 10 days for the patient to die instead of a few moments.   Assembly Bill 67 would protect health care professionals and facilities in these situations.

 In spite of false claims of opponents of AB 67, the bill does not cover drugs or devices that are intended to prevent a pregnancy.  In fact, the bill distinguishes between drugs that are intended to cause an abortion and drugs that are intended to prevent a pregnancy.

Nor does AB tamper with living wills or any other advance directive for health care, as some falsely claim.  If a patient who has a living will is uncomfortable with a physician because he/she will not participate in abortion, assisted suicide, euthanasia or unethical research, that patient can do what patients typically do when dissatisfied with a physician - they can find another physician.

Opponents of AB 67 want to amend the bill to force a physician who objects to abortion to transfer a pregnant woman to an abortionist.  Or force a physician who does not want to starve or dehydrate a patient to death to transfer the patient to a physician who is willing to kill the patient in that manner.  The Assembly soundly rejected an amendment that would have mandated such transfers.

In view of ridiculous arguments from the pro-abortion lobby and some others, it's time for a reality check about AB 67.  The bill provides health care professionals and facilities conscience protection only in the areas of abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide and unethical research.  These are all activities that intentionally destroy human life.  It does not, as opponents falsely claim, "take aim at living wills," or protect conscience rights for medical treatments, pain medication, prenatal care, birth control, fertility treatments, anti-depressant drugs or anti-seizure medications.

"Assembly Bill 67 recognizes that many health care professionals and facilities believe their mission is to treat and heal patients, not to engage in actions that deliberately destroy human life,"  said Armacost.   "This reasonable and common sense legislation deserves to be enacted into law."

Contact:  Susan Armacost, Legislative Director
414-778-5780 or toll free:  877-855-5007
Assembly Labor Committee Approves Pharmacists' Conscience Clause

Pro-Life Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin, USA
14 May, 2003

Madison - The Assembly Labor Committee gave their approval this morning to Assembly Bill 63, legislation that will provide much needed job security for pharmacists who conscientiously object to dispensing drugs or devices that they reasonably believe would be used to cause death through abortion, euthanasia, physician assisted suicide, or any other method of intentionally killing another human being.  

In response to compelling public testimony from several Wisconsin pharmacists last March, the Assembly Labor Committee on a 6 to 2 vote sent the measure on for expected approval by the full Assembly.  Pro-Life Wisconsin applauds the leadership and support of the bill's author, Representative Carol Owens (R-Oshkosh), as well as the following Labor Committee members who voted in favor of AB 63:  Committee Chairman Steve Nass (R-Palmyra), Committee Vice-Chairman Dan Vrakas (R-Hartland), and Representatives Wayne Wood (D-Janesville), Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend), Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Beaver Dam), and Jean Hundertmark (R-Clintonville).  The dissenting votes came from Representatives Christine Sinicki (D-Milwaukee) and Terry Van Akkeren (D-Sheboygan).

"In the past ten years new abortion techniques focusing on chemical means to end the life of preborn babies have received FDA approval or became more readily available," said Matt Sande, legislative affairs director for Pro-Life Wisconsin.  "While abortion was formerly relegated to a clinical setting, it is now possible to receive life-ending drugs in a pharmacy, thus compelling pharmacists to be party to abortion."

Opposing testimony employed the scare tactic that this bill would ban birth control.  "This is not true," said Sande.  "The bill will not make drugs such as the morning-after pill and the birth control pill unavailable.  It simply recognizes that pharmacists, like doctors and nurses, are valued members of the professional health care team who should not be forced to choose between their consciences and their livelihoods.  Just as a woman's legal right to surgical abortion should not compel a hospital to provide one, a woman's legal right to abortifacient drugs should not compel a pharmacist to dispense them."

AB 63 is modeled after legislation that was enacted into law in March, 1998, in the state of South Dakota.  Missouri and North Carolina 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 appreciate the intent of this bill," said Peggy Hamill, Pro-Life Wisconsin's state director.  "Pharmacists should have the right to choose not to be complicit in the taking of innocent human life."

Contact: Peggy Hamill, State Director
Matt Sande, Director of Legislative Affairs
(262) 796-1111, (414) 416-0489 or
Professor Prevails, Union Capitulates

Pacific Justice Institute

23 April, 2003

San Luis Obispo, CA - After a year of battling, the Cuesta College Federation of Teachers finally agreed to allow one of its professors to have all of his union dues diverted to a charity of his choice. Despite making repeated requests, Professor Paul Bauer had previously been denied the right to divert his mandatory "fair share" union fees to a charity that did not conflict with his religious convictions. The choice of charities to which the union had restricted this instructor were the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance, and a local scholarship fund that was clearly geared toward furthering labor union interests.

Acting on behalf of the instructor, the Pacific Justice Institute made several written formal demands to the union that it either provide a list of acceptable charities, or allow the instructor to independently select his own desired charities. In order to prevent a lawsuit against them, the union finally capitulated. "I am relieved this is finally over," said Professor Bauer. "I did not want to go to trial, but would have if it had been necessary. I am extremely grateful to Pacific Justice Institute and their Affiliate Attorney Richard Kahdeman for their valuable representation."

"Under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the unions not only have a legal obligation to refrain from discriminating on the basis of religion, they must reasonably accommodate the religious practices and beliefs of the employees they purportedly represent," said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute. "Compliance with Title VII does not end with the union grudgingly agreeing to divert a religious objector's fees to charity. The whole purpose of accommodation would be defeated if an employee could be made to support an organization or fund that profoundly offends his religious convictions."

Pacific Justice Institute
P.O. Box 4366  •  Citrus Heights  •  CA  •  95611
Phone:(916) 857-6900  •  Fax:(916) 857-6902
The Pacific Justice Institute is a non-profit 501(c)(3) legal defense organization specializing in the defense of religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties.


Court Puts Health Care Workers on the Spot

Protection of Conscience Project

5 June, 2003
1155 PM PST
For Immediate Release

A recent decision by the Supreme Court of Victoria makes it lawful to cause the death of patients by starvation and dehydration. The court has classified nutrition and hydration not as care, but as 'treatment' that can by refused by a patient or proxy. Australian health care workers who find this morally repugnant may now find themselves in a difficult position.

"There are strong ethical traditions that identify nutrition and hydration as basic care that is owed to any human being," explained Sean Murphy, Administrator of the Protection of Conscience Project. "Those who work within these traditions would no more deprive patients of food and water

than take their beds and blankets."

The decision in Melbourne involved a 68 year old woman suffering from a fatal form of dementia known as Pick's Disease, and has spent the past three years in a vegetative state.

Author Wesley J. Smith cites the case of Marjorie Nighbert, not terminally ill, who was admitted to a Florida nursing home following a stroke. Her feeding tube was removed on instructions from her brother. As she began to feel the effects of dehydration and hunger she begged, "Please feed me . . . I'm hungry, I'm thirsty." Nursing staff secretly slipped her small amounts of food and water. The case was eventually reviewed by a judge, who ordered the process continued. She died in April, 1995.

"Even if this is considered acceptable public policy," said Murphy, "dissenting health care workers and institutions should not be forced to participate in what they may consider to be judicially authorized euthanasia."