Protection of Conscience Project
Protection of Conscience Project
Service, not Servitude

Service, not Servitude


Examining the thorny moral problem of foetal reduction
Michael Cook | It is a truth universally acknowledged that defending an opinion on abortion will make at least half of one’s readers unhappy. But Joona Räsänen, a Finnish bioethicist at the University of Oslo, defends an opinion on abortion in the Journal of Medical Ethics which is bound to make all of them unhappy.. . .continue reading
Distinguishing between elective abortions and other medical interventions
Sean Murphy | It is often thought that "termination of pregnancy" is simply a euphemism for abortion.  While that may often be the case, two news releases issued in the fall of 2019 (below) demonstrate that "termination of pregnancy" can also be understood as a separation of an infant or foetus in utero from the mother (thus terminating the pregnancy) with the intention of saving the life of the mother, even if the life of the infant/foetus cannot be saved.  It appears that all of the organizations involved agree that abortion/termination of pregnancy can be justified for this reason. . .continue reading
Draft Irish Abortion Law: Protection of Conscience
Houses of the Oireachtas (Tithe an Oireachtais) Debates-December, 2018


Nurse describes 22 week old abortion survivor dying in clinical waste room
Caren Ní hAllacháin | "I was an agency nurse in Sydney Australia in the early 90s and I was on a ward one night when a woman had come in for an abortion. She was 22 weeks pregnant and had been told her baby had a chromosomal abnormality. I went into the sluice room and I saw the baby, a 22 week old baby boy, in a kidney dish in at the sink where all the clinical waste was flushed. He was small but he was perfect. You could see his toes, his hands, he seemed like he had blond hair. He was the full size of the kidney dish and he was alive. I could see the rise and fall of his chest, he was breathing." . . . Video
Objecting nurse describes coerced participation in abortion
Cathy Cenzon-Decarlo | A nurse formerly employed at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York describes being coerced to participate in abortion. The story illustrates the need for protection of conscience legislation and policies as well as the kind of experience that can cause health care workers to refuse to participate in abortion for reasons of conscience. . . . Video
Anti-conscientious objection article in Irish Times very misleading
Dr. Angelo Bottone | In March, 2017, the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations criticized Italy for failing to provide adequate access to abortion, citing high rates of conscientious objection by physicians as a "barrier" to access.  News articles appearing earlier in the month made or referred to the same kind of claim [Mirage News, The Daily Beast, Crux].  The Irish Times column to which Dr. Bottone refers, appearing at the end of May, repeated the claims, apparently for the purpose of persuading Irish readers that the law or state policy should override the freedom of conscience and religion by compelling participation in abortion.  Dr. Bottone uses Italian language sources to effectively counter the claims made by abortion advocates. . . .continue reading
Abortion in "rural" British Columbia 
Researchers include city of 85,000 as part of "rural" B.C.
Sean Murphy | Two recent research papers based on a 2011 survey of physicians providing abortion in British Columbia assert that "rural abortion services are disappearing in Canada."  However, what the papers contribute to an understanding of the "barriers" to abortion services in rural British Columbia is doubtful, for two reasons.  First: the analytical structure proposed (the urban-rural dichotomy as defined by the authors) is inadequate.  Second: the authors ignore the significance of an important variable: the nature of the facilities or institutions where abortions are performed. . . continue reading
Draft Irish Abortion Law: Protection of Conscience
Testimony before the Joint Committee on Health and Children
Houses of the Oireachtas (Tithe an Oireachtais)
Dublin, Ireland 17-21 May, 2013
17 May, 2013

Policy: Overview of Head of Bill

Regulatory and Representative Bodies

Obstetric Care Facilities: Larger Hospitals

Obstetric Care Facilities: Smaller Hospitals

20 May, 2013

Psychiatry and Perinatal Psychiatrists


21 May, 2013

Medical Law

Constitutional Law

Medical Ethics

A "medical misadventure" in Ireland: Deaths of Savita & Prasa Halappanavar
(Galway, Ireland: 21-28 October, 2012)
Sean Murphy| Savita Halappanavar was a 31 year old woman who was 17 weeks pregnant when she presented at the University Hospital, Galway. . . with a miscarriage.  She spontaneously delivered a stillborn daughter, Prasa, on the afternoon of 24 October, and died from sepsis early on 28 October.  The circumstances of her death generated a hurricane of controversy in Ireland and around the world about Irish abortion law.  A coroner's inquest held in Galway in April, 2013 resulted in the classification of Savita's death as a "medical misadventure." . . . continue reading
Abortion and Prince Edward Island: Group encourages complaints against objecting physicians
(Canada: November, 2011)
Sean Murphy | . . .The attempt to characterize the exercise of freedom of conscience by physicians as 'professional misconduct' may surprise Islanders who remember the promises made when abortion was legalized in Canada over forty years ago. . . continue reading
Clarifying the Clarification:
College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan
Guideline on Unplanned Pregnancy

(Canada: February, 2011)
Sean Murphy | . . . physicians who object to abortion for reasons of conscience - whether globally or, like Dr. Morgentaler, selectively - can hardly be disciplined for failing to adhere to ambiguous directives or guidelines. . . continue reading
Doctors under pressure as abortion demand goes up
(Viet Nam: March, 2010)
 Than Nien News | . . .The psychological trauma faced by doctors could emerge as an important issue with the rapidly increasing number of people seeking to have abortions. . . continue reading


Experiences of Christian Medical & Dental Associations Members
 Mark J Heulitt |. . .The bias we face is many times subtle but poignant, but we must practice our faith and stand up for our beliefs. . . I was approached by at least three faculty who sat me down and told me I was stupid. . . . I was told . . . that if I did not want to give patient's any care they demanded that I should not be in medicine. . . continue reading
Forced abortions and sterilizations in China
(March-July, 2005)
Sean Murphy | . . .It is not unreasonable to believe that this type of campaign could give rise to conflicts of conscience among some of the officials and health care workers involved, either with respect to the procedures or the coercion and violence used. . . continue reading


Alarmed by freedom of conscience
(UN, Geneva,Switzerland: November, 2004)
The United Nations Human Rights Committee has told Poland to "liberalize its legislation and practice on abortion," and has also complained about the lack of information available about conscientious objection to abortion by physicians, which, it seems, the Committee finds unacceptable. . . .continue reading
Are Pro-Life Healthcare Providers Becoming an Endangered Species?
(USA. 2003)
Nancy Valko, RN | . . . Slowly but surely, more and more pro-life doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals are getting the message that they and their views are unwelcome in today's health care system. But these public items tell only a small part of the story. Intimidation, harassment and coercion are becoming increasingly common as pro-life health care providers try to advocate for both their patients and their professional ethics. . . continue reading
Medical Students for Choice: Pro-choice group at UBC
(Canada: October, 2002)
Greg J. Edwards | . . .one might conclude that any journalist who is granted an interview with MSFC spokesmen must be a parrot for its cause: near-mandatory, if not mandatory, abortion training in medical schools. . . continue reading
Accommodating Conscience
(Canada: October, 2002)
Greg J. Edwards | . . .a recent contract cancellation at B.C. Women's Hospital, as well as developments in other provinces, raises doubt as to whether nurses do in fact enjoy unfettered freedoms of conscience and religion. . . Nurses get apprehensive when asked whether they do. . . continue reading
No Place for Abortion in African Traditional Life - Some Reflections
(Uganda, 2002)
Fr. Bonaventure Turyomumazima | . . .I wish, however, to approach the rest of the reflections from the point of view of what I may call pre-Christianity African religious beliefs and practices on the subject of abortion. My stand is that there is no place for abortion even in pre-Christianity African tradition. . . continue reading
Canadian International Aid Tied to Abortion, Charges Doctor
(East Timor, 2002)
CFAM | ". . . we tried to establish essential obstetrical care in East Timor, where there are no obstetricians. It was made clear to us by the UN that we were not welcome unless we were prepared to provide reproductive health care, which is abortion, the morning after pill, sterilization, etc. Of course, we refused, so the UN has blocked our participation." . . . continue reading
General practice docs, obstetrics and palliative care
(Canada: September, 2002)
Greg J. Edwards |. . .in spite of their rights being recognized, many doctors don't want to publicize their views, especially in the press, where their views are often distorted and sensationalized. They prefer to make "no comment." Or they speak "on background only." They want to remain anonymous.  They fear the wrath of a profession and a society that have accepted abortion as ordinary and artificial birth control as natural. . . continue reading
A national battle over healthcare ethics threatens to put any conscience-guided Doctor in the Lions' Den
(USA, 2001)
Jonathan Imbody | . . .According to Peter Hildering, M.D., a family physician and leader of the Dutch Physicians Guild, Dutch Christian physicians and medical students find themselves in the "lions' den" of medical ethics challenges. Hildering says that his organization is receiving reports of discrimination against Christian physicians who buck a healthcare system that aggressively advances abortion and euthanasia. . . continue reading
The Obstetric-Gynaecological Practice in the Czech Republic during the Communist Regime and in the Present Days (1980-2001)
Miloslav Nesyba ...The abortions could have been done only in hospitals, the doctor-gynaecologist was forced to and had to perform them, if he/she had refused, they had to leave the field in which they worked and had to go to another one or to an ambulatory department where their duties were to fill in applications for abortion. . . The change of the political system brought a great change in the work of doctors- gynaecologists. No doctor is forced to perform abortions or has to be involved . . . continue reading
MD's, Pharmacists should follow conscience
(Canada: June 2001)
Laureen McMahon | Canadian Physicians for Life have strongly rejected a statement from Planned Parenthood in Alberta that pro-life doctors who don't wish to do abortions are obliged to refer patients to their colleagues for the procedure. . . . continue reading
Chinese hospital workers divided over attempts to kill abortion survivor
(Heilongjiang province, China: April-May 2001)
Sean Murphy | . . . significant official pressure was brought to bear on medical staff to force them to act contrary to their conscientious convictions in furtherance of state policy. . . it would not be surprising if the incident . . . caused some of the medical staff to modify their views about abortion, suggesting the likelihood of further conflicts of conscience. . .This also occurs in western democracies . . . and the same question arises in both the east and west; will those health care workers be forced out of their professions? . . . continue reading
Pro-life OB-GYNs Left Out in the Cold: MaterCare Founder Robert Walley Hopes to Change That
(May, 2001)
Zenit | ". . . It is clear to us that there is discrimination against Catholic and pro-life doctors in many countries who wish to specialize but who refuse to participate in abortion or birth control. They are coming under a lot of pressure to compromise and this has serious consequences. . . "continue reading
Conscientious Objection to Abortion
(United Kingdom, 2001)
Helen Barratt | . . . It is increasingly difficult for Christian doctors to enter careers in certain specialties and there is substantial evidence of discrimination. A CMF survey of 1405 doctors revealed that 14% of doctors felt they had been discriminated against because of their abortion views. Four thought they had been refused jobs whilst five members had had to change jobs or even specialties. . . continue reading
Conscientious Objection in Ireland
(May, 2000)
Testimony | ". . .the people who would be asked to carry out the terminations of pregnancy are the gynaecologists in this country, and as I've mentioned already, you know, for religious, moral and ethical reasons most of my colleagues would be extremely unhappy to be asked to do so. In fact most, I am sure, would not do it. . ." continue reading
United Nations, US officials acting oppressively in East Timor
East Timor: 2000)
Sean Murphy | ". . .I met with officials at WHO and CNRT, the latter headed by US officials, and was struck by how aggressive they were in imposing their views and their values on the people. The Timorese doctors I met felt themselves oppressed, and expressed concern about the secretive nature of the activities of WHO and the CNRT committee. . . " continue reading
Life Support, Anyone? Pro-Life Physician Answers the Challenge
(Los Angeles, California: 1999-2000)
Katherine Schlaerth | . . . I objected to this commandeering of a nurse who clearly felt uncomfortable assisting at an abortion . . .  After that occurrence, I found that my fellow physicians in our department were distancing themselves from me, even those who claimed to be "pro-life." Everyone was afraid that a show of support would put jobs in jeopardy. . . continue reading


Abortion and Conscientious Objection
(United Kingdom, 1999)
Peter Saunders | A third of junior doctors are refusing on moral grounds to perform abortions according to a study conducted by the Abortion Law Reform Association (ALRA).  In some NHS hospitals all juniors have exercised their right to conscientious objection under the 1968 Abortion Act. . .  continue reading
A New Low in Heartlessness: Born alive, left to die
(Chicago, Illinois: 1999)
Dennis Byrne | . . . One hospital nurse has complained that babies are sometimes are left to struggle on their own for up six or seven hours until death frees them from their torment. . . She said a newborn, with no one around to hold it, once was left to die in a soiled linen closet--a charge the hospital denies. . . continue reading
Court orders abortion, sterilization
(Province of Quebec, Canada: 1999)
Sean Murphy | In July, 1999, Quebec Superior Court Judge Paul Vezina ordered that Cassandre Lavoie have a second trimester abortion and tubal ligation. Lavoie, who was mentally ill, had been a ward of the province of Quebec for five years. Evidence received by the court was that she was not capable of requesting or consenting to the procedures. . . continue reading
United Nations Committee:
Conscientious Objection "an infringement of. . . rights"
(August, 1997)
UN Committee Report | . . .the Committee is . . . concerned about information regarding the refusal, by some hospitals, to provide abortions on the basis of conscientious objection of doctors. The Committee considers this to be an infringement of women's reproductive rights. . . continue reading
Bishop protests on behalf of nurses
(Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada:1997)
Sean Murphy | . . . Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Thunder Bay controversy was the case of the single nurse . . . who had been a peri-operative nurse for eleven years, [who]suffered such intense "physical and emotional anxiety" as a result of her exposure to abortions . . .that she was referred to the Employee Assistance programme. . . continue reading
Are State Doctors in the Western Cape willing to implement the Choice of Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1996?
(South Africa: November, 1997)
H.R.G. Ward B.Sc.(Med) | . . . In 1994, Dooley warned that prior to a country drafting abortion legislation, a prudent government will consider in advance how it will find enough health care professionals who will in good conscience assist in abortions. In too many countries a law permits abortion and requires health professionals to implement the law but little or no attention has been given the basic principle of respecting conscientious refusal. This issue was raised again in the South African parliamentary public hearings in October 1996.   It appears to have gone unheeded and the current unsatisfactory situation continues to exist. . . continue reading
South Africa Changes Abortion Law: Warnings Ignored (1996-97)
H.R.G. Ward B.Sc.(Med) |. . .The possible imprisonment of any person including vital service personnel, found guilty of "obstructing or failing to refer a woman eligible for an abortion" exposes a deplorable Nazi style attitude to people of conscience. To expect complicity of this nature is like in the words of Dr.Charles Oettle ordering a man who does not believe in the death penalty to blindfold the prisoner and load the rifles for the firing squad. . . continue reading
Abortion and Conscientious Objection
(United Kingdom: 1996)
Peter Saunders | . . . In my work among medical students, I am frequently asked about the practicalities of conscientious objection. The vast majority of students are not asking whether abortion is right and wrong. Rather they are asking: 'Given that abortion is wrong, how should I handle the situations where pressure is being put upon me to participate?' . . . continue reading


Lacunae in Conscience:
Address to the Civil Liberties Section B.C. Bar Association
(British Columbia, Canada:1990)
Williard Johnston. M.D. . . . it seems odd to me that groups who would defend freedom of conscience vociferously in almost any context fall silent when the owner of that conscience is objecting to abortion. This silence is more than just selective indignation. It amounts to a disenfranchising of the concerns of the abortion objector in a way reminiscent of the refusal of the same groups to disenfranchise the unborn child. . . continue reading


Baby left to die at Vancouver General Hospital
(Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: 1985)
Terry O'Neill | . . . an unwanted premature baby, born unexpectedly after a botched abortion, was abandoned by medical staff at Vancouver General Hospital and left to die in a room used to store dead fetuses. Although shivering, whimpering and gasping for air, the baby was forced to fend for herself for 40 minutes until a nurse finally came to her aid. . . continue reading