International Law Office
Lise Gran, Ole Kristian Olseby
The Supreme Court recently deemed that a municipality’s termination of its agreement with a general practitioner (GP) after she refused to insert an intrauterine device (IUD) for a patient for reasons of conscience relating to her religion was invalid.
The criterion for terminating an agreement with a GP is the same as that for terminating an employment agreement under Norwegian law (ie, it must be objectively justified). . . [Full text]
From June 12 to 15, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice heard legal arguments relating to conscience rights for doctors in Ontario. Five doctors and three physicians’ organizations want the court to declare portions of policies created by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) a violation of doctors’ rights enshrined in the Charter. A decision is expected later this year.
CPSO, the respondent in the case, has stated they may suspend or sanction a doctor that refuses to participate in an assisted suicide, which they — duplicitously in my opinion — call “medical aid in dying” (MAID). Euthanasiasts prefer the euphemism because “aid in dying” sounds softer and gentler than “kill.” But the true definition of MAID is palliative care, whose future as a medical discipline has been thrown into uncertainty by the CPSO’s bullish stance on assisted suicide.
The CPSO’s conscience-hostile position is both unnecessary and unjust. . . [Full text]
Swedish midwife Ellinor Grimmark has decided to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights over Sweden’s hard line on conscientious objection. The Swedish Appeals Court decided earlier this month that the government can force medical professionals to perform and cooperate in abortions, or else be forced out of their profession. Because the ruling in Grimmark v. Landstinget i Jönköpings Län appears to contradict international law protecting conscientious objection, Grimmark wants to appeal to Strasbourg. . . .
The Swedish midwife who lost her legal battle to be exempt from assisting in abortions—an act she has said violates her religious freedom—has decided to push her case to the European Court of Human Rights even though she likely will not return to Sweden.
“In the beginning, I was hoping to stay in Sweden,” Grimmark said in a phone interview with Fox News from her new home in Norway, where she moved two and a half years ago after she was let go from three different hospitals in Sweden. “But we have now made Norway home. I have a job here where they are not concerned with my beliefs.” . . . [Full text]
NOTODDEN, Norway, February 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Last week, a Norwegian court ruled against Katarzyna Jachimowicz, a Polish Catholic doctor fired for her unwillingness to insert intrauterine devices (IUDs).
The determined doctor decided in 2016 to fight for freedom based on conscience protections and tolerance for family doctors. However, on February 9, a district judge explained that the government has no desire to protect conscience in this case any further than absolutely necessary according to the European Convention on Human Rights. It simply prioritized the interest of women in accordance with “traditional Norwegian values.” The court found the discrimination against Catholic minorities in Norway irrelevant. . . [Full text]
Around the world, policies and actions of many governments and governmental agencies are threatening rights of conscience of health care providers and employees. These challenges and dangers seem to be increasing.
Recent times have seen numerous high-profile incidents in which nurses, doctors, hospital staff, government employees, and other health care workers are being pressured, required and forced to provide morally-controversial elective procedures (such as non-therapeutic abortions) despite their expressed moral objections to participating in such services. [Full text]
J Med Ethics 2014;40:609-612 doi:10.1136/medethics-2013-101482
Sven Jakob Nordstrand, Magnus Andreas Nordstrand, Per Nortvedt, Morten Magelssen
Objective: To examine medical students’ views on conscientious objection and controversial medical procedures.
Methods: Questionnaire study among Norwegian 5th and 6th year medical students.
Results: Five hundred and thirty-one of 893 students (59%) responded. Respondents object to a range of procedures not limited to abortion (up to 19%)—notably euthanasia (62%), ritual circumcision for boys (52%), assisted reproduction for same-sex couples (9.7%) and ultrasound in the setting of prenatal diagnosis (5.0%). A small minority (4.9%) would object to referrals for abortion. In the case of abortion, up to 55% would tolerate conscientious refusals, whereas 42% would not. Higher proportions would tolerate refusals for euthanasia (89%) or ritual circumcision for boys (72%).
Discussion: A majority of Norwegian medical students would object to participation in euthanasia or ritual circumcision for boys. However, in most settings, many medical students think doctors should not be able to refuse participation on grounds of conscience. A minority would accept conscientious refusals for procedures they themselves do not object to personally. Most students would not accept conscientious refusals for referrals.
Conclusions: Conscientious objection remains a live issue in the context of several medical procedures not limited to abortion. Although most would want a right to object to participation in euthanasia, tolerance towards conscientious objectors in general was moderate or low. [Full Text]