Pope Francis: Freedom of conscience in danger in ‘Christian countries’

Catholic News Service

Courtney Grogan

Rome, Italy, Mar 31, 2019 / 03:45 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis decried the regression of freedom of conscience in “Christian countries” during an in-flight press conference Sunday, telling reporters on his return trip from Morocco, “let’s not accuse Muslims”.

When asked by a French reporter about a criminal law in Morocco that prohibits enticing a Muslim to convert to another religion, Francis responded, “Let’s not accuse Muslims. Let’s accuse also ourselves.”

“Today, we Christians have the danger that some governments will take away our freedom of conscience, which is the first step toward freedom of worship,” Pope Francis said March 31.

“Think of the Christian doctors and hospital institutions that do not have the right of conscientious objection, for example, for euthanasia. How? The Church has moved on and you Christian countries go backwards?” he told the French reporter. . . [Full text]

Doctors threaten legal action in abortion services row

The Business Post

Francesca Comyn

The issue of GP-led abortion services has proved highly contentious for various reasons including conscientious objection, workload and an existing services contract perceived by many to be sub-standard

The professional body for GPs is facing the threat of legal action from its members if it does not row back on its refusal to hold and extraordinary general meeting on the provision of abortion services. . .[Full text]

GPs are ignoring democracy on abortion issues

Doctors’ group is demanding members fall into line without expressing their concerns

The Irish Times

Breda O’Brien

The board of the Irish College of General Practitioners, the professional body for general practice in Ireland, has refused for the second time requests from some of its members to hold an emergency general meeting to debate motions on abortion.  

Why is the ICGP so afraid of democracy? This is only the latest twist in a long-running saga that began when Simon Harris announced in a radio interview that abortion services were to be GP-led.

This was the first that GPs had heard of it. They were already over-worked, highly stressed and leaving the profession in droves. Many were stunned that there had been absolutely no consultation with GPs. . . [Full text]

Bishops condemn bills to expand abortion, repeal conscience protection

Catholic News Service

Jacob Comello

The bishops from Illinois’ six dioceses March 28 made a decisive stand against state legislators’ efforts to remove all abortion restrictions in the state, as well as the right of physicians to object to the practice.

At a news conference livestreamed from the Illinois Capitol in Springfield, Catholic Conference of Illinois Director Bob Gilligan told reporters on no uncertain terms that “we are here today to oppose these bills.”

. . . The Senate and House bills Gilligan is referring to are S.B. 1942 and H.B. 2495. Either, if passed, would greatly alter current Illinois law. . . . [Full text]

Right to Conscientious Objection to Abortion Burning Issue in Croatia

Total Croatia News

HINA

ZAGREB, March 27, 2019 – Health Minister Milan Kujundžić on Wednesday called for compliance with the legislation when it comes to honouring the right to conscientious objection concerning the issue of abortion, while at the same time that procedure should be made available.

“Anything that is in contravention with ethical and moral principles deserves condemnation,” Kujundžić said, and commenting on the case of a woman in Dubrovnik who underwent an abortion procedure without anaesthesia due to the anaesthesiologist’s refusal to participate in the procedure, the minister said that the hospital should have engaged other doctors in such cases when their colleagues invoke the conscientious objection clause which allows them to refuse to participate in the termination of pregnancy. . . [Full text]

Australian Medical Association Updates Advice to Doctors with Conscientious Objections

News Release

Australian Medical Association

The AMA has released its updated Position Statement on Conscientious Objection 2019 (replacing the Position Statement on Conscientious Objection 2013). The policy was reviewed as part of the AMA’s routine, five-year policy review cycle.

A conscientious objection occurs when a doctor, as a result of a conflict with his or her own personal beliefs or values, acknowledges that they cannot provide, or participate in, a legal, legitimate treatment or procedure that would be deemed medically appropriate in the circumstances under professional standards.

A conscientious objection is based on sincerely-held beliefs and moral concerns, not self-interest or discrimination.

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said today that doctors are entitled to have their own personal beliefs and values, as are all members of the community.

“However, doctors have an ethical obligation to minimise disruption to patient care and must never use a conscientious objection to intentionally impede patients’ access to care,” Dr Bartone said.

The AMA advises that a doctor with a conscientious objection should:

  • inform the patient of their objection, preferably in advance or as soon as practicable;
  • inform the patient that they have the right to see another doctor and ensure the patient has sufficient information to enable them to exercise that right;
  • take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the patient’s access to care is not impeded;
  • continue to treat the patient with dignity and respect, even if the doctor objects to the treatment or procedure the patient is seeking;
  • continue to provide other care to the patient, if they wish;
  • refrain from expressing their own personal beliefs to the patient in a way that may cause them distress;
  • inform their employer, or prospective employer, of their conscientious objection, and discuss with their employer how they can practise in accordance with their beliefs without compromising patient care or placing a burden on their colleagues; and
  • always provide medically appropriate treatment in an emergency situation, even if that treatment conflicts with their personal beliefs and values. 

Changes since 2013

The tone and emphasis of the Position Statement has been amended. Rather than taking a prescriptive line, the Position Statement now takes a reflective approach where a doctor is asked to focus on what really should matter the most: the impact of their decisions on the patient in front of them.

A new statement has been included that an objecting doctor should be aware that certain treatments or procedures are time critical.

A new section on institutional conscientious objection has been included. It advises institutions that do not provide particular treatments or procedures due to institutional conscientious objection to inform the public of this so (potential) patients can seek care elsewhere. This section also advocates that a doctor working within such an institution should be allowed to refer a patient (already admitted) who seeks such a service to another doctor outside the facility.

The AMA Position Statement on Conscientious Objection 2019 is at https://ama.com.au/position-statement/conscientious-objection-2019


CONTACT:        John Flannery                     02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761

                            Maria Hawthorne               02 6270 5478 / 0427 209 753

Bolivian Catholic Bishops comment on freedom of conscience and religion

Assert right to conscientious objection

Sean Murphy*

The Conference of Catholic Bishops of Bolivia have published a statement commenting favourably on changes to Bolivia’s law on freedom of conscience and religion. However, they criticize the failure to recognize a right to conscientious objection, referring to a physician in Sucre who is being disciplined for refusing to provide an abortion.

“[W]e have expressed on several occasions the need to recognize in Bolivia the right to conscientious objection, in this and other matters, because we consider first order safeguarding individual and thought freedom and because no one should be forced to act against their conscience.”

The right to conscientious objection

Archbishop supports doctor who refused to perform legal abortion

Correo del Sur

César Vale

Caution: Machine assisted translation of César Vale,”Arzobispo respalda a médico que se negó a practicar aborto legal.” Correo del Sur, 25 Marzo, 2019.

The archbishop of Sucre, Monsignor Jesus Juarez, backed the doctor of the National Health Fund (CNS) who refused to perform an abortion based on his claim of conscientious objection, and was subjected to administrative discipline.

“I would like to give my full support to all the doctors who really bet on life, first because life is the best gift that God makes humanity, and second, life is the first right that every person has, and also the right of the unborn, ” said Juarez.

In past days, the CNS of Sucre decided to suspend the doctor J.N.M., interim chief of the Gynecology and Obstetrics Service of the Obrero Hospital “Dr. Jaime Mendoza “, and to begin an administrative disciplinary proceeding for refusing to perform the legal termination of the pregnancy of citizen P.A.A.

Catholic hospital group sued for refusing transgender hysterectomy

Cathoic News Agency

San Francisco, Calif., Mar 25, 2019 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- A group of five Catholic hospitals in California is being sued by a woman who identifies as a transgender man after one of its locations, St. Joseph Hospital, Eureka, refused to perform a hysterectomy.

Oliver Knight is suing St. Joseph Health of Northern California, alleging that she was refused the surgery because of her “gender orientation.”

The suit was filed in the Humboldt County Superior Court on Thursday, March 21. In the lawsuit, Knight says that workers at the hospital canceled the surgery because she identifies as transgender. . . [Full text]

Bolivian doctor to be prosecuted for refusing to perform an abortion

LifeSite News

Jeanne Smits

LA PAZ, Bolivia, March 25, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — A Bolivian doctor has been suspended by that country’s National Health Fund (Caja Nacional de Salud) for having refused to perform an abortion on a woman pregnant with an anencephalic child. “N.M.,” as he is known, will also be prosecuted before an administrative court, together with the former director of the Jaime Mendoza Workers’ Hospital in Sucre, where the refusal took place.

Abortion is illegal in Bolivia except in cases of rape, incest, danger to the mother’s health, or a lethal malformation of the unborn child.

It was this last case that was invoked by a woman from Cochabamba in February of last year after medical examinations revealed that her baby had a serious congenital malformation. She was five months pregnant. . . [Full text]