Illinois court rules in favour of pharmacist freedom of conscience

Two pharmacists have won an appeal against a 2005 executive order issued by the Governor of Illinois that required all pharmacies to fill prescriptions for the morning after pill.  The appeals court upheld a lower court injunction based on the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act.

An Illinois appeals court has ruled in favor of two pharmacists who objected to having to provide emergency contraception on religious grounds, setting a precedent their lawyer hopes will protect others from judicial or state sanctions. [San Francisco Chronicle]

Spanish physicians urged to disobey law on treating immigrants

According to a law that went into effect on 1 September, Spanish physicians may not provide health care for undocumented migrants except in cases of emergency, pregnancy, or delivery. The Spanish Society of Family and Community Medicine (SEMFyC), supported by the Spanish Medical Colleges, holds that the law is contrary to medical ethics and is advising physicians to become “conscientious objectors” to the law.  [Hastings Center Bioethics Forum]

30 lawsuits now pending against U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has listed 30 lawsuits pending against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regulation that would compel employers to provide insurance for contraception, embryocides and sterilization, despite moral or religious objections.

American Cardinals speak forcefully on freedom of conscience and religion

Timothy Cardinal Dolan,  Archbishop of New York and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) addressed the John Carroll Society in Washington, D.C. on the theme of “Let Religious Freedom Ring.”  Cardinal Dolan stated that “freedom of religion has been the driving force of almost every enlightened, un-shackling, noble cause in American history,” and that defence of religious freedom is “the quintessential American cause, the first line in the defense of and protection of human rights.”[Zenit] [My Catholic Standard]  During thekeynote address at the Catholic Perspectives on Religious Liberty symposium at Georgetown University, Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C. argued that to relegate religion to the private sphere and silence moral teaching in public is dangerous because religious belief is “the conscience of society.” [CNS]

Recognizing conscience in abortion provision

Lisa Harris

N Engl J Med 2012; 367:981-983

The exercise of conscience in health care is generally considered synonymous with refusal to participate in contested medical services, especially abortion. This depiction neglects the fact that the provision of abortion care is also conscience-based. The persistent failure to recognize abortion provision as “conscientious” has resulted in laws that do not protect caregivers who are compelled by conscience to provide abortion services, contributes to the ongoing stigmatization of abortion providers, and leaves theoretical and practical blind spots in bioethics with respect to positive claims of conscience — that is, conscience-based claims for offering care, rather than for refusing to provide it.[Full Text ]

Philippines Senate amends Reproductive Health bill

In an attempt to break a deadlock, the Philippines Senate has removed provisions of its version of the Reproductive Health bill that were thought to promote abortion and contraception.  President Benigno Aquino wants the bill passed because he considers it essential to his economic development programme, but the bill remains highly controversial. [Philippine Daily Inquirer] [The Guardian]

Professors at Catholic university in Philippines support Reproductive Health bill

192 professors of the Jesuit Ateneo de Manila University from its Loyola Schools, School of Medicine and Public Health, Law School and School of Government have signed a declaration affirming support for the controversial Reproductive Health bill.  The declaration states that the bill “is a vital piece of legislation that needs to be passed urgently” and asserts that the key principles of the bill are compatible with Catholic social teaching.   [Declaration]