The Becket Fund reports that there are 79 court cases involving 200 plaintiffs now moving through the U.S. courts, challenging the federal regulation requiring employers with over 50 employees to provide health insurance for birth control and surgical sterilization. Of the 40 lawsuits filed by for-profit corporations, 32 have been granted injunctions against the law, and only six refused.
Belgian politicians are debating a bill proposed by the governing Socialist party to legalize euthanasia for children (with parental consent). The bill would also abolish the current 5 year limitation on advance directives for euthanasia in order to make the procedure available to persons with dementia. [ABC News]
J Med Philos (2013) 38 (6): 674-695. doi: 10.1093/jmp/jht045
Byron J. Stoyles and Sorin Costreie
Our goal in this article is to explicate the way, and the extent to which, euthanasia can be voluntary from both the perspective of the patient and the perspective of the health care providers involved in the patient’s care. More significantly, we aim to challenge the way in which those engaged in ongoing philosophical debates regarding the morality of euthanasia draw distinctions between voluntary, involuntary, and nonvoluntary euthanasia on the grounds that drawing the distinctions in the traditional manner (1) fails to reflect what is important from the patient’s perspective and (2) fails to reflect the significance of health care providers’ interests, including their autonomy and integrity. [Full Text]
By a narrow margin (351/319) the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe rejected a Report on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights put forward by Edite Estrela of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality. The report complained of what it called “the abuse of conscientious objection” with respect to abortion in Ireland, Malta and Poland and other countries:
Conscientious objection’s practice has denied many women access to
reproductive health services, such as information about, access to, and purchase of contraception, prenatal testing, and lawful interruption of pregnancy. There are cases reported from Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Poland, Ireland and Italy where nearly 70% of all gynaecologists and 40% of all anaesthesiologists conscientiously object to providing abortion services.
It described conscientious objection to abortion as “widespread” and demanded that states should regulate and monitor the exercise of freedom of conscience – at least freedom of conscience exercised by “reproductive health care providers.” The authors also assert institutions (such as hospitals) should not be allowed to operate according to conscientious or religious convictions. In its complaints about “the unregulated use of conscientious objection,” the report repeated the complaint of a 2010 report that was also rejected by the Assembly.
However, a minority opinion by author Anna Zaborska stated:
This non-binding resolution violates the EU Treaty and cannot be used to introduce right to abortion. . .No international legally binding treaty nor the ECHR nor customary international law can accurately be cited as establishing or recognizing such right. All EU institutions, bodies and agencies must remain neutral on the issue of abortion. . . . The human right of conscientious objection together with the responsibility of the state to ensure that patients are able to access medical care in particular in cases of emergency prenatal and maternal health care must be upheld. No person, hospital or institution shall be coerced, held liable or discriminated against in any manner because of a refusal to perform, accommodate, assist or submit to practices which could cause the death of a human embryo.
The report has been returned to the committee for review, but there is no doubt that a similar report will be returned for another vote some time in the future. [Christian Medical Comment; CNS News]
In a 2/1 decision, the British Columbia Court of Appeal has overturned the Supreme Court ruling in Carter v. Canada, which would have legalized physician assisted suicide. The case will almost certainly be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.