No one obliged to cooperate with ‘unjust’ NI abortion law – bishops

The Irish Catholic

Róise McGagh

Northern Ireland’s bishops have said new abortion laws in Northern Ireland are “unjust” and that no one is obliged to cooperate with them.

Currently there is a regulatory framework in place in the North that governs abortion provision until more permanent legislation is expected to be introduced in three months.

“The new regulatory framework in Northern Ireland should provide all health professionals including midwives, nurses and ancillary staff working in hospitals and other community settings with the right to refuse to participate in any aspect of the delivery of abortion services such as consultation, administration, preparation, in addition to the direct and intentional act of abortion itself,” the bishops said. They added this should include pharmacists. . .[Full text]

Dutch cardinal: Priests should ‘speak clearly’ on assisted suicide

Catholic News Agency

Andrea Gagliarducci

Vatican City, Dec 16, 2019 / 05:06 pm (CNA).- A priest must say clearly to a person opting for assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia that he is committing a grave sin, a Dutch cardinal told CNA this week.

For the same reason, a priest cannot be present when voluntary euthanasia or assisted suicide is performed. This might imply that the priest has no problems with the decision or even that “these morally illicit acts are not such in some circumstances according to the teaching of the Church,” Cardinal Willelm Eijk, Archbishop of Utrecht and an expert on euthanasia issues, told CNA. . . [Full text]

Catholic Medical Association launches conscience app

Doctors who have ethical questions in the midst of treating a patient can check their phones for answers.

Aleteia

John Burger

Catholic physicians who are concerned about the ethical implications of care and treatment decisions now have a new tool to help them, and it will fit right into their pocket.

The Catholic Medical Association has developed the Catholic Medical Conscience App for health care professionals who want help learning and applying the intellectual tradition of the Church in the health care setting. The app has a “nihil obstat,” an official Church approval, from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. . . [Full text]

Archbishop Paglia says priests can be present at assisted suicide

Catholic Herald

Hannah Brockhaus

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said Tuesday that he would be willing to hold the hand of someone dying from assisted suicide, and that he does not see that as lending implicit support for the practice.

Paglia spoke at a December 10 press conference preceding a two-day symposium on palliative care, being sponsored by the Pontifical Academy for Life and the WISH initiative, part of the Qatar Foundation. . . [Full text]

These Are The 26 States Where Women Can’t Sue If They Suffer Harm After Being Denied An Abortion

Newsweek

Kashmira  Gander

Most U.S. states ban women from suing health care providers if they are harmed after being denied an abortion due to conscience laws, a study has revealed.

Conscience law enables institutions and individuals to refuse to participate in abortions on moral or religious grounds. The research published in the journal JAMA showed half of states have no limitations on the rights of institutions to refuse to terminate pregnancies in such circumstances.

The study was prompted in part by recent lawsuits against Catholic hospitals that refused abortions to women having miscarriages, study author Professor Nadia N. Sawicki, Co-Director of the Beazley Institute for Health Law and Policy at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, told Newsweek. . . [Fulltext]

Cardinal Archbishop of Toronto: Canadian situation “grim”

Health care professionals who do not wish to participate in killing their patients need protection

Sean Murphy*

Thomas Cardinal Collins, Catholic Archbishop of Toronto, in addressing the 40th annual Cardinal’s Dinner in the city, warned that “all people of faith, living in what is more and more an aggressively secular society, must manifest the courage of their convictions.”

After considering the global persecution of Christians, he raised the subject of freedom of conscience and religion in Canada, within the context of the legalization of abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide.

It is deeply troubling that the culture of life seems to be eroding more and more in our country. Canada remains one of the few countries in the world with no law on abortion. The introduction of euthanasia was a sad day for Canada, and all indications are that the government intends to loosen safeguards currently in place. Increased palliative care seems to have taken a backseat to death on demand. I find this to be appalling.

In such a grim situation, it is critical that we at least respect the conscience rights of those health care professionals who do not wish to participate in killing their patients. As there is limited conscience protection at the federal level, most provinces in Canada have legislative protection in place for their health care workers. I hope that our provincial legislature can work to address this issue in the days ahead by enacting legislation that protects the conscience rights of all health care workers. 

Whose Rights Come First: Doctors’ or Patients’?

Medscape

Arthur L. Caplan

Hi. I’m Art Caplan. I’m at the Division of Medical Ethics at the NYU School of Medicine. Conscientious objection—everybody seems to be talking about it these days. What are the rights of physicians, pharmacists, nurses, or other healthcare workers to say that something may be legal but they refuse to do it?

This issue has come up particularly as more and more health systems are merging. You see Catholic hospitals merging with secular hospitals. Catholic hospitals have a huge presence in the American world of hospitals and nursing homes, probably accounting for 40% of all facilities. When mergers take place, whose values predominate? . . [Full text]

(Project response: Freedom of conscience in healthcare: “an interesting moral swamp?”)

Church supports conscientious objection for medical professionals in Nuevo Leon

Catholic News Agency

Monterrey, Mexico, Oct 30, 2019 / 05:19 pm (CNA).- Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera López of Monterrey said Sunday he supports the reform of the Healthcare Law in Mexico’s Nuevo Leon state allowing conscientious objection for doctors and nurses.

Speaking to the press Oct. 27, Cabrera said that “conscientious objection is a universally established right; I think that sometimes the problem is how it is understood or put into practice.” . . . [Full text]

Colorado End-of-Life Options Act

A Clash of Organizational and Individual Conscience

JAMA

Matthew Wynia

Journal of the American Medical Association The 2016 Colorado End-of-Life Options Act includes a provision unique among states with such laws, specifically privileging individual health care professionals, including physicians and pharmacists, to choose whether to write and fill prescriptions for life-ending medications, such as high-dose secobarbital or various combinations of morphine, diazepam, beta-blockers, and digoxin, without regard to the position their employer has taken on the law. This provision virtually guaranteed the Colorado law would eventually be challenged, which happened in August 2019.1 The current legal case directly pits the conscience rights of individual health care professionals against those of religiously affiliated corporations. Because 5 of the top 10 US hospital systems by net revenue are now religiously affiliated,2 and these systems often restrict medical care in a variety of ways,3 how the case is resolved could have far-reaching implications for US health care, extending well beyond the relatively rare use of aid-in-dying medications at the end of life.


Wynia M. Colorado End-of-Life Options Act: A Clash of Organizational and Individual Conscience. JAMA. 2019;322(20):1953-1954. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.16438

Position Paper of the Abrahamic Monotheistic Religions on Matters Concerning the End of Life

The position of Abrahamic religions on end of life and palliative care

News Release

Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development

Yesterday 28 October at the Casina PIo IV in the Vatican, 40 representatives of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths signed the joint Position Paper of the Abrahamic monotheistic religions on matters concerning the end of life.

Invited by the Pontifical Academy for Life, presided over by His Excellency Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the religious, including the Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development Peter K. A. Turkson, have committed themselves in 12 points to stating that euthanasia and assisted suicide are morally and intrinsically wrong and should be prohibited without exception. Any pressure and action on patients to end their lives is categorically rejected.

A very important point for the mission of the Dicastery is that concerning  Health Care Workers that states that no health care worker should be forced or subjected to pressure to witness directly or indirectly the deliberate and intentional death of a patient through assisted suicide or any form of euthanasia, especially when such practices go against the health care worker’s religious beliefs, because there should be always respect for conscientious objection to acts that conflict with a person’s ethical values. This remains valid, continues the Paper, even if such acts have been declared legal at a local level or by categories of persons.

Very significant, the joint declaration also addresses the spiritual and material accompaniment of the terminally ill and their families, as well as the use of medical technology at the end of life and the promotion of palliative care.