Protection of Conscience Project
The Protection of Conscience Project was officially launched one year ago. The Project is a non-denominational, non-profit initiative that seeks laws to protect the freedom of conscience of health care workers and others, who have come under increasing pressure to participate in morally controversial procedures.
Over the first few months, the original board of advisors grew from three to seven; it now includes members from three continents, four countries and a number of academic disciplines.
During the year, submissions on freedom of conscience were made to the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution (Ireland), the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, and the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (Canada). The potential impact of the Access to Abortion Services Act (British Columbia) was examined in the first Project report, and efforts have been made to support conscientious objectors by facilitating communication, and by referrals and correspondence.
The Project website has been used by some legislators and others advocating for protection of conscience. Entry level pages in English and French are now available on the site. Posted documents are linked to a service that provides free translation of the gist of the text into six languages, with an option for more accurate, paid translation.
There have been over 800 visitors and 1,000 visits to the website since mid-February, 2000, an average of four visits per day. “The numbers aren’t large,” comments Sean Murphy, the Project Administrator. “But word is slowly getting out to the people who need to hear about it. And comments from people in difficulty indicate that the work being done is appreciated.”