The US case brings to light concerns around conscientious objection at a time when a federal religious discrimination bill is being debated in Australia
A woman has filed a lawsuit against a Thrifty White Pharmacy and a CVS Pharmacy in Minnesota in the US, alleging the two pharmacies illegally kept her from accessing emergency contraception.
Andrea Anderson, a 39-year-old mother of five, says she asked the pharmacist at her drugstore in Minnesota more than once why he couldn’t fill her prescription for emergency contraception, according to the Star Tribune.
“I then realised what was happening: he was refusing to fill my prescription for emergency contraception because he did not believe in it,” Ms Anderson said on Tuesday. . . [Full text]
World Medical Association
The World Medical Association has reaffirmed its long-standing policy of opposition to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.
After an intensive process of consultation with physicians and non physicians around the world, the WMA at its annual Assembly in Tbilisi, Georgia, adopted a revised Declaration on Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide.
This states: ‘The WMA reiterates its strong commitment to the principles of medical ethics and that utmost respect has to be maintained for human life. Therefore, the WMA is firmly opposed to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.’
It adds: ‘No physician should be forced to participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide, nor should any physician be obliged to make referral decisions to this end.’
The Declaration says: ‘Separately, the physician who respects the basic right of the patient to decline medical treatment does not act unethically in forgoing or withholding unwanted care, even if respecting such a wish results in the death of the patient.’
The revised Declaration defines euthanasia as ‘a physician deliberately administering a lethal substance or carrying out an intervention to cause the death of a patient with decision-making capacity at the patient’s own voluntary request.’
It says that physician-assisted suicide ‘refers to cases in which, at the voluntary request of a patient with decision-making capacity, a physician deliberately enables a patient to end his or her own life by prescribing or providing medical substances with the intent to bring about death.’
WMA Chair Dr. Frank Ulrich Montgomery said: ‘Having held consultative conferences involving every continent in the world, we believe that this revised wording is in accord with the views of most physicians worldwide.’
CNSNews.com) – Advocates of assisted suicide are dismayed that the largest association of physicians in the U.S. has decided to continue using the term “physician-assisted suicide” rather than euphemisms such as “medical aid-in-dying.”
Meeting in Chicago on Monday, the American Medical Association, by a vote of 360-190, adopted a report by its Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA) recommending that the term “physician-assisted suicide” continue to be used.
Significantly, the AMA also voted to reaffirm its Code of Medical Ethics’ current policy on assisted suicide – the view that allowing doctors to help patients to die “is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer.” That vote was 392-162. . . [Full text]
CHICAGO — Delegates voted overwhelmingly to affirm the current policy opposing physician-assisted dying here at the American Medical Association (AMA) 2019 Annual Meeting.
After impassioned testimony from both sides at last year’s meeting, the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs was asked to further examine the issue.
“The AMA House of Delegates concluded that established guidance in the Code of Medical Ethics supports shared decisions that respect the deeply held beliefs of physicians and their patients with respect to assisted suicide,” said AMA President Barbara McAneny, MD. . . [Full text]
American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, American Academy of Neurology
Medical Council confirmed its Ethics Working Group is continuing to work on ethical guide
Irish Medical Times
The Medical Council has deleted four paragraphs of its ethical guide and amended another to remove “any conflict” with the newly introduced legislation facilitating for the medical termination of pregnancy. . . [T]he Council confirmed its Ethics Working Group is continuing to work on the Guide. . . . [Full text]
Canadian & Royal Dutch Medical Association want censure dropped
The President of the World Federation of the Catholic Medical Associations has disclosed that the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and Royal Dutch Medical Association (RDMA) have asked the World Medical Association to change its policy against euthanasia and physician assisted suicide.
The WMA issued a Declaration on Euthanasia in 19871 and a Resolution on Euthanasia in 2002;2 they are now identical. The WMA Statement on Physician Assisted Suicide was made in 1992 and reaffirmed in 2005 and 2015:
Physician-assisted suicide, like euthanasia, is unethical and must be condemned by the medical profession. Where the assistance of the physician is intentionally and deliberately directed at enabling an individual to end his or her own life, the physician acts unethically. However the right to decline medical is a basic right of the patient, and the physician does not act unethically even if respecting such a wish results in the death of the patient.3
Writing to the President of the World Medical Association, Dr. John Lee stated that the CMA and RDMA suggested that existing policy be replaced with the following:
8. The WMA does not support euthanasia or physician assisted suicide, but WMA does not condemn physicians who follow their own conscience in deciding whether or not to participate in these activities, within the bounds of the legislation, in those jurisdictions where euthanasia and/or physician assisted dying are legalized.
9. No physician should be forced to participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide against their personal moral beliefs. Equally, no conscientiously objecting physician should be forced to refer a patient directly to another physician. Jurisdictions that legalize euthanasia or physician assisted suicide must provide mechanisms that will ensure access for those patients who meet the appropriate requirements. Physicians, individually or collectively, must not be made responsible for ensuring access.4
Dr. Lee also expressed opposition to a planned revision to the Declaration of Oslo concerning abortion, which, he said, would require objecting physicians to refer for abortions and even to provide them. However, he commented at greater length on the proposed change to WMA policy on euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Based on the Canadian experience, acceptance of the ethical neutrality of medically-assisted death has resulted in almost immediate challenges for physicians who are unable to refer because of moral, religious, or ethical concerns. It is a serious problem, with physicians put in the impossible position of having to choose between their conscience and being allowed to continue to care for their patients.4
The Canadian roots of the CMA/RDMA proposal
Dr. Lee’s observations about developments in parts of Canada are accurate. The text of paragraph 8 is very similar to the CMA resolution used by the CMA Board of Directors as the basis for reversing CMA policy against euthanasia and assisted suicide. . . [Full Text]
Heather Bellamy spoke with Ciaran Kelly, the Head of Communications at the Christian Institute, about the importance of reasonable accommodation in balancing people’s rights, and how after consultation, the General Pharmaceutical Council have chosen to continue to value their pharmacists faith and conscience, as well as patient care.
For the past few months, Christian pharmacists in Great Britain anticipated having to choose between their faith and their job, but after a huge campaign and the threat of legal action from the Christian Institute, their regulatory body has backed away from ending conscience rights. Heather Bellamy spoke with Ciaran Kelly, the Head of Communications, at the Christian Institute, to find out more. . . [Full text]
Eastern Daily Press
I was drawn to a news story which snuck under the radar this week. This issue is a classic ‘contract’ versus ‘conscience’ battle facing some pharmacists, which was brilliantly highlighted on the BBC Radio Norfolk Sunday Breakfast programme.
I pen this week’s article with genuine interest, a will to impartially provoke a healthy debate rather than trying to influence opinion. In a U-turn on proposed policy, Britain’s pharmacy regulator has declared that pharmacists should not be forced to dispense medicine and substances against their consciences. This includes drugs such as the morning-after pill or even contraceptives. The pharmacist can object if it goes against their religious beliefs, forcing the customer to go elsewhere. . . [Full text]
Christian Concern reported earlier this year that the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) had amended its guidance to remove any protection for pharmacists and their legal right to freedom of conscience.
Christian Concern provided submissions to the GPhC stating very clearly that not only did pharmacists enjoy a legal right to freedom of conscience, but also that the public had a right to receive services from pharmacists who share their set of values. . . [Full text]
CatholicPhilly/Catholic News Service
MANCHESTER, England (CNS) — In a U-turn of proposed policy, Britain’s pharmacy regulator has declared that Catholic pharmacists should not be forced to dispense lethal drugs against their consciences.
The General Pharmaceutical Council, the regulatory body that sets professional standards for the industry throughout the country, has backed away from controversial proposals to abolish the right of people with religious convictions to conscientiously object to dispensing the morning-after pill, contraceptives and hormone-blocking drugs used by transsexual patients.
In new guidance issued June 22, it says: “Professionals have the right to practice in line with their religion, personal values or beliefs as long as they act in accordance with equalities and human rights law and make sure that person-centered care is not compromised.” . . . [Full text]