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Protection of Conscience Project

Service, not Servitude

Update 2014-03-01

1 March, 2014

Covering the period from 1 January, 2014 to 28 February, 2014

1.  By Region/Country

Developments relevant to freedom of conscience.

2.  News Items

Links to news summaries.

3.  Recent Postings

Links to resources added to Project site.

4.  Action Items

Support protection of conscience initiatives near you.

5.  Conferences/Papers

Seminars, conferences and workshops relevant to conscience advocacy.

6.  Publications of Interest

Relevant to freedom of conscience issues.

1.  By Region/Country
Visit the Project News/Blog for details.

Much of the news from Canada concerns attempts or plans to legalize euthanasia, which would seriously impact health care workers oppposed to the practice.

Canada’s Liberal Party has overwhelmingly adopted a policy resolution favouring the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide.  However, the policy is not binding on the party leader, Justin Trudeau, so it is not certain that it will be included in his official platform in the next Canadian federal election. 

The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear an appeal from the decision of the British Columbia Court of Appeal concerning Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), a lawsuit attempting to oveturn Canada's prohibition of physician assisted suicide and euthanasia.  Ther are concerns that the Court will reverse its previous ruling against the procedure.

The Supreme Court of British Columbia has ruled that family members cannot order caregivers at a nursing home to starve an 83 year old resident to death.  The judge noted that she is not dying, and that to comply with their wishes would mean that Mrs. Bentley would die from starvation and dehydration and not an underlying disease.

Bill 52, Quebec’s euthanasia legislation, failed to pass the National Assembly before a scheduled two week recess, and it is expected that the government will call an election after the Assemly resumes sitting.  If so, the bill will die.  In the meantime, the secretary for the  Collège des médecins du Québec, the state regulator of medical practice, has suggested that grounds for euthanasia will likely be broadened after the bill passes. 

A Facebook crusade was launched in Ottawa, Ontario, against three physicians who decline to prescribe contraceptives after a 25 year old woman had to drive around the block to obtain a prescription for birth control pills. The campaign led to a front-page news story, an article in the Medical Post and a province-wide phone-in CBC radio show.  Many of the critics argued that the physicians should be denied freedom of conscience and religion because health care in Canada is tax-funded and delivered by the state.  The solution propose by one was, "NO MORE CHRISTIAN DOCTORS".

The campaign against the three physicians also connects to the campaign to legalize euthanasia.  The reasons offered for forcing objecting physicians to prescribe or refer for contraception are also used to justify forcing them to refer for or facilitate euthansia and assisted suicide.  Professor Jocelyn Dowie of Dalhousie University, one of the leading campaigners for compulsory referral for abortion, is also a leading advocate for legalizing euthanasia and forcing physicians to refer for the procedure.


Longstanding and entrenched Swedish hostility to freedom of conscience in health care has been exposed by the case of Ellinor Grimmark, a 37 year old midwife who was fired for refusing to assist with abortions.  She has filed a complaint with the Discrimination Ombudsman (DO).  Swedish delegates to the European Union have long been active in attempting to persuade the Union to adopt similarly repressive policies.

United States

The Alabama House of Representatives has passed the Health Care Right of Conscience Act, while House Bill 1430 has passed the Missouri House of Representatives.  Rep. Gordon Denlinger of Pennsylvania is reported to be preparing a protection of conscience amendment to the state constitution. 

The Becket Fund reports 95 lawsuits filed against the controversial Health and Human Services  regulation that forces objecting employers to provide health insurance for contraception and sterilization.  Over 300 plaintiffs are involved in 47 actions filed by for-profit corporations, 46 by non-profit corporations, and two class actions.  Of the rulings so far, 33 injunctions have been granted to for-profit corporations (six denied) and 19 have been granted to non-profit corporations (one denied).  The American Supreme Court has agreed to hear two appeals concerning the regulation.

2.  News Items

You can search news items by date, country and topic in the Project News/Blog. 

3.  Recent Postings

Missouri House Bill 1430

Christian conscience in a secular culture

Swedish nurse takes a stand on conscience rights

Complicity after the fact


Conscientious objection to patriarchal norms

Denlinger statement on freedom of conscience amendment to Pennsylvania Constitution

4.  Action Items

None noted.

5.  Conferences/Papers

The Project will post notices of conferences that are explore and support the principle freedom of conscience, including the legitimate role of moral or religious conviction in shaping law and public policy in pluralist states or societies.

3rd Annual Conference on Medicine & Religion
Responding to Limits and Possibilities of the Body

March 7-9, 2014
Chicago, Illinois, USA

Truth, Conscience and Religious Freedom
April 4-5, 2014
Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, USA

6.  Publications of Interest

Harter TD.  Toward accommodating physicians’ conscientious objections: an argument for public disclosure.  J Med Ethics doi:10.1136/medethics-2013-101731

Brody H, Leonard SE, Nie J-B, Weindling P.  U.S. Responses to Japanese Wartime Inhuman Experimentation after World War II: National Security and Wartime Exigency. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics / Volume 23 / Issue 02 / April 2014, pp 220-230

Juth N, Lynöe N.  Zero tolerance against patriarchal norms? A cross-sectional study of Swedish physicians' attitudes towards young females requesting virginity certificates or hymen restoration.  J Med Ethics doi:10.1136/medethics-2013-101675

7.  Video


8.  Audio