A matter of conscience

The Irish Catholic

Greg Daly

“The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience,” Alabama lawyer Atticus Finch tells his daughter in Harper Lee’s 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s a powerful statement, and one worth bearing in mind by those who’d seek to make an idol of the ballot box.

It also homes in on one of the key issues facing doctors, religious or otherwise, who believe that they have duties towards all human beings, born or unborn, regardless of how the 36th Amendment to the Constitution permits the State to regulate abortion by law. . .[Full text]

Muslim doctors may upset Government abortion plans

Irish Catholic

Greg Daly

Ireland’s reliance on Muslim doctors in hospitals around the country may derail Government plans to roll out a national abortion service, a leading obstetrician has said.

Large numbers of non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs) working in maternity units outside Dublin are Muslims from abroad, according to Dr Trevor Hayes of Kilkenny’s St Luke’s Hospital, who says he had been personally told that they have serious religious qualms about performing abortions. . .[Full text]

The status of the human embryo in various religions

William Neaves

Abstract

Research into human development involves the use of human embryos and their derivative cells and tissues. How religions view the human embryo depends on beliefs about ensoulment and the inception of personhood, and science can neither prove nor refute the teaching of those religions that consider the zygote to be a human person with an immortal soul. This Spotlight article discusses some of the dominant themes that have emerged with regard to how different religions view the human embryo, with a focus on the Christian faith as well as Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish and Islamic perspectives.


Neaves W. The status of the human embryo in various religions. Development 2017 144: 2541-2543; doi: 10.1242/dev.151886

When doctors say No

A law professor defends physicians’ right to conscientious objection

MercatorNet

Michael Quinlan*

As abortion, euthanasia and other controversial procedures become more widespread, conscientious objection for healthcare workers is becoming a flashpoint for controversy throughout the Western world. Some doctors and ethicists have argued that conscientious objection itself is unethical because doctors are required to fulfil any legal request that their patients make.

MercatorNet interviewed Professor Michael Quinlan, dean of the law school at the Sydney campus of the University of Notre Dame Australia, about this contentious issue. He has just published an article on the situation in Australian jurisdictions. [Full text]

Religious coalition backs doctors’ conscience rights battle at Queen’s Park

The Catholic Register

Register Staff

A coalition of Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders has sent an open letter to all 107 Ontario MPPs urging them to work together and “find a pathway that respects the rights of medical professionals, facilities and patients.”

The letter was sent March 27 as committee hearings were underway regarding Bill-84, which will regulate medically assisted dying in Ontario.

The coalition urges MPPs to amend the Bill to include conscience protection for doctors and other health-care workers who oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, and to follow the Alberta model to create a “care coordination service” that provides patient access to assisted dying without requiring a direct doctor referral. . . .[Full text]

 

Pioneering Islamic scholar, defender of women coming to Fresno: ‘Islam, Christianity and Judaism share the same genome’

The Fresno Bee

Carmen George

An Islamic scholar who served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense regarding Middle Eastern affairs and who helped draft Iraq’s constitution is this year’s Fresno Interfaith Scholar Weekend speaker.

“With what is going on in the world, we immediately decided it was an Islamic scholar that we needed – a great Islamic mind to share with us,” Jim Grant, chairman of the Fresno Interfaith Scholar Weekend Committee and director of the Social Justice Ministry for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno, said about this year’s speaker, Abdulaziz Sachedina.

Sachedina is the International Institute of Islamic Thought chairman of Islamic Studies at George Mason University in Virginia. He will present a series of talks Friday through Feb. 26 at the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno, Temple Beth Israel, Wesley United Methodist Church and Fresno City College centered around the theme, “Islam, Human Rights, and Interfaith Dialogue.” The annual event is sponsored by around 30 churches and organizations in the central San Joaquin Valley. . . [Full text]

Saskatchewan religious leaders call for freedom of conscience on assisted death

Regina Leader Post

D.C. Fraser

Religious leaders from around Saskatchewan are coming together to let the province know they want freedom of conscience to be respected throughout the assisted dying process.

The federal government passed assisted-dying legislation last week, at the insistence of the Supreme Court after it struck down laws preventing doctors from helping the incurable die.

It took a national debate, and a law ping-ponging between the Senate and House of Commons, but federal government officials say the law strikes the right balance between personal autonomy for those wanting to die and protecting the vulnerable.

Reverends, bishops, pastors,rabbis, imams and the like from around the province met with provincial officials on Tuesday and signed a letter calling for freedom of conscience, whether or not something lines up with their personal moral sense, when it comes to doctor-assisted deaths. . . [Full text]

Ottawa archbishop among religious urging CPSO not to violate physicians’ conscience rights

Catholic Register

Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News

OTTAWA – Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, along with an imam and a rabbi, have written a joint-intervention in favour of physicians’ conscience rights.

“No Canadian citizen, including any physician, should ever be disciplined or risk losing their professional standing for conducting their work in conformity with their most deeply held ethical or religious convictions,” wrote Prendergast, Rabbi Reuven Bulka and Imam Samy Metwally in a July 31 letter to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.

The College had been seeking input until Aug. 5 on its policy review entitled “Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code.” [Full Text]

Submission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario

Dr. Marc Gabel
President
College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario
80 College Street
Toronto, Ontario
MSG 2E2

Dear Dr. Gabel:

Re: Policy Review ‘Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code’

As the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario prepares to review its policy on physicians and the human rights code, we are deeply disturbed by the many negative voices that have been urging the College to force doctors to “check their ethics at the door”. It should be obvious that now, only weeks after Quebec legalized euthanasia, we have arrived at the worst possible time in Canadian history to turn doctors into mere mechanics whose duty is to blindly do the bidding of their clients.

With euthanasia legal in Canada’s second-largest province, the debate about euthanasia and assisted suicide on the national level and in other provinces will only intensify. It is crucial that we preserve the right of our doctors to refuse to participate in such services even if they are legal.

Euthanasia and assisted suicide continue to be regarded as deeply unethical by many world religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

What is legal is no longer necessarily moral, and we would be unwise to place all our trust in the law as our shield, or to train our doctors to disregard their own ethical limits. Indeed, the properly formed conscience of our physicians may sometimes be the last moral and ethical boundary that protects us and provides us with life-affirming options and alternatives that respect our human dignity.

Canadians pride themselves on being a society made up of many cultures, religions and ethnicities. The freedom and democracy that underpin our pluralist society lead us to affirm the right of all citizens to participate fully in roles of leadership and the professional life, including the medical profession.  Any policy that would require doctors to contravene their consciences and to breach their most deeply held values would be outrageously exclusionary and unacceptable, as it would chase out of medicine those principled physicians who refuse to violate the central teachings of many of our largest and most ancient religions. For such doctors, referral for actions that they believe to be contrary to their medical judgement, ethical principles and religious beliefs would be as unacceptable as providing them, as it would be tantamount to outright cooperation with the action in question.

We refuse to believe that this is the kind of Canada that any of us would want to live in. The freedom of conscience is a basic human right recognized by many international agreements and protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is essential to a truly democratic society and foundational for the protection of all other human rights, including the freedom of religion.

As such, we strongly encourage the College, as it reviews its policy on this matter, to continue to protect an authentic freedom of conscience for all physicians. No Canadian citizen, including any physician, should ever be disciplined or risk losing their professional standing for conducting their work in conformity with their most deeply held ethical or religious convictions.

Sincerely yours,

Rabbi Reuben Bulka
Congregation Machzikei Hadas, Ottawa

Terrence Prendergast, S.J.
Archbishop of Ottawa

Imam Sarni Metwally
Ottawa Main Mosque

CC:
President of the Ontario Medical Association
President of the Canadian Medical Association
President of the College of Family Physicians of Canada

Kenyan Muslim leader comment on Islamic medical ethics open to question

Sheikh Abduwahab Mursal, described in a Daily Nation report as a “top religious leader” in Kenya, is reported to have said that “it [is] a taboo in the Islamic faith for a woman to be touched by or discuss sexuality with a man even if he is a medical practitioner.”  The comment appears in a news story about Sheikh Mursal’s efforts to convince Muslims in Kenya to embrace “modern family planning” practices. [Daily Nation].  The Sheik is  secretary of the Wajir branch of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya.

This kind of assertion has created an impression in western countries that Muslim physicians may not examine patients of the opposite sex, an impression that is being used to justify suppression of freedom of conscience among health care workers, and which tends to fuel prejudice against Muslim medical and nursing students and physicians.  If the Sheikh’s statement has been accurately reported, it is certainly at odds with practice in even the most conservative Islamic countries.