Before the Senate Labour Committee
Yvonne Klubertanz R.Ph.
The physician was adamant that I had to fill whatever he prescribed, even though I explained my conscience would not allow me to do that. He threatened that my supervisor would find out about this, and I feared that my job could be in jeopardy. I was harassed for my beliefs, and my dignity as a person was attacked.
Thank you for being here to listen to my testimony in support of SB 21. As a pharmacist licensed in the state of WI, I have experienced first hand the fear of being fired for my religious, moral, or ethical beliefs, and realize how important this bill is for the future of pharmacy. First let me explain the current state of the pharmacy profession.
As you may know, there is a shortage of health care workers. Pharmacists, especially, are in very high demand. If pharmacists are being fired or not allowed equal opportunities because they object to dispensing medications that cause abortions or death of an individual person, we are doing society and our great State of Wisconsin an injustice. [Full text]
More and more Canadian workers are being compelled to violate their own beliefs
Two of the most commonly heard expressions uttered in the name of modern egalitarian society are “workers’ rights” and “freedom of choice.” Let an employer order a non-Christian to put up Christmas decorations, and it will not be long before news-hungry media and human-rights enforcers show up in the employee’s defence (as happened in B.C. not long ago). However, a growing number of Canadian workers are being discriminated against on conscience-related issues, and the institutions that should be protecting them are turning a blind eye to their plight. As is becoming increasingly apparent, the double standard seems to be entirely political. [Full text]
Med Law. 2001;20(2):283-93. Review. PubMed PMID: 11495210.
Bernard M. Dickens
Reproductive health services address contraception, sterilization and abortion, and new technologies such as gamete selection and manipulation, in vitro fertilization and surrogate motherhood. Artificial fertility control and medically assisted reproduction are opposed by conservative religions and philosophies, whose adherents may object to participation. Physicians’ conscientious objection to non-lifesaving interventions in pregnancy have long been accepted. Nurses’ claims are less recognized, allowing nonparticipation in abortions but not refusal of patient preparation and aftercare. Objections of others in health-related activities, such as serving meals to abortion patients and typing abortion referral letters, have been disallowed. Pharmacists may claim refusal rights over fulfilling prescriptions for emergency (post-coital) contraceptives and drugs for medical (i.e. non-surgical) abortion. This paper addresses limits to conscientious objection to participation in reproductive health services, and conditions to which rights of objection may be subject. Individuals have human rights to freedom of religious conscience, but institutions, as artificial legal persons, may not claim this right. [Full Text]
Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2000 Oct;71(1):71-7. Review. PubMed PMID: 11044548.
Bernard M. Dickens, Rebecca J. Cook
Principles of religious freedom protect physicians, nurses and others who refuse participation in medical procedures to which they hold conscientious objections.
However, they cannot decline participation in procedures to save life or continuing health. Physicians who refuse to perform procedures on religious grounds must refer their patients to non-objecting practitioners. When physicians refuse to accept applicants as patients for procedures to which they object, governmental healthcare
administrators must ensure that non-objecting providers are reasonably accessible. Nurses’ conscientious objections to participate directly in procedures they find religiously offensive should be accommodated, but nurses cannot object to giving patients indirect aid. Medical and nursing students cannot object to be educated about procedures in which they would not participate, but may object to having to perform
them under supervision. Hospitals cannot usually claim an institutional conscientious objection, nor discriminate against potential staff applicants who would not object to participation in particular procedures. [Full Text]
Cameron Maxwell of the Edmonton Sun reported that Calgary’s Roman Catholic Bishop, Frederick Henry, supports pharmacists who refuse to sell “morning after” pills for reasons of conscience, as well as nurses who do not wish to participate in abortion.
Bishop Henry spoke of the need for protection of conscience legislation for all health care professionals. He noted that it was unfair that physicians could refuse to be involved in abortions, while nurses, pharmacists and others were denied similar consideration. Henry had first-hand experience with the problems faced by conscientious objectors when he was Bishop of Thunder Bay (See Bishop protests on behalf of nurses (Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada)(1997) ). He cited the more recent case of nurses at Calgary’s Foothills Hospital to illustrate the need for legislation. (See Foothills Hospital Now Forces Nurses To Participate In Genetic Terminations ; Nurses At Foothills Hospital Rebel Over The Horrifying Results Of Late-Term ‘Genetic Terminations’) .
Since at least1991, Australia has been faced with Chinese women who apply for refugee status because of China’s ‘one-child policy.’ Senate committee hearings were conducted into the matter. One of the witnesses, who identifed herself by the pseudonym “Dr. Wong”, was heard by the committee in February, 1995, and July, 1999. The following extracts provide some information about the operation of the ‘one-child policy’ and the coercion of health care workers. [Full text]