Reproductive Health bill passes Philippines congress

The Philippines Senate and House of Representatives have passed a Reproductive Health Bill by signficant margins.  Bills of this kind have been proposed repeatedly over the past 13 years and have always been highly controversial because of oppostiion from those opposed to contraception and other contentious aspects of the bills.  However, it is unclear exactly what the new law will say, as the houses passed it in two different versions, and will have to compile an agreed-upon text before it can be signed into law by the president.  [Modern Medicine]

Jefferson’s Robust Views of Religious Freedom

Public Discourse

17 December, 2012

Brian Walsh, T.J. Whittle,  and Garrett Bauman within Religion and the Public Square

Notwithstanding his unorthodox views of Christianity, Thomas Jefferson staunchly adhered to the rights of all religious believers, Christian and non-Christian alike, to free religious exercise.

Thomas Jefferson called the holidays the season of “greatest mirth and jollity,” but as Americans gather with friends and family this month, recent threats to religious liberty might dampen some of their holiday cheer. Fortunately, Jefferson’s thought also can give hope and encouragement to supporters of religious freedom. After a wearisome election year fraught with animosity and threats to religious freedom, it behooves us to reconsider Jefferson’s advocacy for religious liberty as a cornerstone of our fundamental rights.

Jefferson held deeply conflicted (some would say hostile) views of the religious beliefs of most of his fellow citizens. Despite this, he was devoted to the liberties of all religious believers. Examining his reasons for this might help even those who share his skepticism toward traditional, organized religion to appreciate the case for defending America’s historically broad protections for the free exercise of religion. Jefferson advocated religious freedom not out of any strict pious devotion, but out of his insights into human nature and the nature of good government. These include the view that religious pluralism in tandem with the exercise of enlightened reason is foundational to a well-ordered society.

But it is imperative to distinguish the long-simmering contention and disagreement over Jefferson’s beliefs on religion from his clear public support for religious liberty. When it came to religious freedom and rights of conscience, Jefferson was both a strong critic of official government establishments of religion and a staunch proponent of the free exercise of religion. . . [Read on]

Philippines medical groups urge passage of controversial bill

23 health care professional organizations representing over a quarter of a million health care workers, including the Philippine Medical Association, held a press conference at the Philippine General Hospital urging the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill.  [Philippines Inquirer]  The bill is strongly opposed by those opposed to provisions in the bill that require the dissemination of contraceptives.




Uruguayan doctors say abortion norms fail to respect conscience rights

Nearly one hundred doctors in Uruguay filed a lawsuit on Dec. 7, arguing that the country’s new abortion norms to not allow for conscientious objection.

According to the newspaper El Observador, the doctors state that because they are directly responsible for implementing and administering the regulations, they feel obliged to denounce “several grave illegalities” they contain.

Read On: Uruguayan doctors say abortion norms fail to respect conscience rights :: Catholic News Agency (CNA).

Americans United for Life Celebrates Win for Illinois Conscience Rights in Case AUL Championed Since 2005


Americans United for Life

“This decision has dramatic implications for all people of faith who object to being forced to throw aside their convictions to support an anti-life agenda,” said AUL’s Dr. Charmaine Yoest

WASHINGTON, D.C. (12-11-12) – After seven years in court, the decision by the Illinois Attorney General not to file an appeal in Morr-Fitz vs. Quinn means that Illinois pharmacists finally cannot be forced to dispense life-ending drugs against their Rights of Conscience. Those rights are protected under the Illinois Health Care Rights of Conscience Act and the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as well as the U.S. Constitution. Americans United for Life attorneys have been engaged in the case since 2005, defending the freedoms of pharmacists Luke Vander Bleek and Glenn Kosirog, representing their interests in court along with several Illinois pharmacies owned by them.

“This is a tremendous victory. Rights of conscience are under assault today and this case is a rebuke to those who argue that the government can violate the First Amendment Rights of Americans by forcing them to advance an anti-life agenda. This includes the abortion industry which aggressively supported the coercive mandate in Illinois and is arguing for similar measures in other states,” said Americans United for Life President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest.

In 2005, AUL filed a lawsuit challenging a rule issued by then-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich forcing pharmacists and pharmacies to dispense so-called “emergency contraceptives” “without delay.”  At that point, then-Director of AUL’s Center for Rights of Conscience Ed Martin was lead counsel in the case along with AUL Staff Counsel Mailee Smith.  When the suit was filed, Martin noted:

“Luke Vander Bleek is suing to protect his rights as an American — his right to build a business, contribute to society as a health care professional, and to live according to his principles.  The Governor is trampling the rights of health care professionals and small business owners through his emergency rule.”

AUL Advisory Board member, Mark L. Rienzi, law professor at Catholic University and Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund, took over the case in 2006.

“We are delighted with the decision,” said Rienzi. “The government should not have tried to force these pharmacists out of business for their religious objection to selling a small handful of drugs.  Over seven years of litigation, there was never a shred of proof that a religious objection at a pharmacy harmed anyone.  These pharmacists do a wonderful job serving their communities, and the state’s decision not to appeal lets them get back to that important work.”

Over the course of the litigation, AUL filed three amicus briefs in the case. Two were filed before the Illinois Supreme Court and argued that both federal and Illinois law protected pharmacists’ freedom of conscience, that freedom of conscience is an historic right “steeped in the history and tradition” of America, and that the post-fertilization effect of “emergency contraception” is objectionable to many pharmacists who also should be free to exercise their First Amendment Rights of Conscience.

For more on this case, and AUL’s involvement, click here.

Survivor of Nazi ‘Twin Experiments’ Talks to Doctors About Human Subjects Research


Science Daily

Eva Kor  will never forget the day her childhood ended. The images of that day,  and the weeks after, are burned into her memory, as brutally permanent  as the tattoo on her left forearm.

On a spring day in 1944 Kor and her twin sister Miriam, 10 years old at  the time, were taken from their family and herded into the Auschwitz  concentration camp. The twins became part of a group of children used for human experimentation by Josef Mengele, known as the Angel of Death. . . [Read more]

Woman seeks legalization of assisted suicide in Ireland

58 year old Marie Fleming, wife of euthanasia campaigner Tom Curran, has brought a case in the Irish High Court to legalize assisted suicide in Ireland.  She is said to be “terminally ill with multiple sclerosis.”  [Reuters]

Re: Washington State Board of Pharmacy Regulation

  •  Carrie Severino* | My organization, the Judicial Education Project, in conjunction with two leading Jewish Orthodox Groups, Agudath Israel of America and the National Council of Young Israel, has filed an amicus curiae brief in a Becket Fund case, Stormans Inc. v. Mary Selecky, et al. . . .  Stormans challenges the constitutionality of Washington State’s Board of Pharmacy regulations that require pharmacists and pharmacies to dispense emergency contraceptives. Unfortunately, this regulatory burden falls—due to secular regulatory exemptions and the Board’s selective regulatory enforcement—exclusively on religious objections to emergency contraception, while passing over similarly situated non-religious objectors. . .
    Full Text

World Medical Association and unethical “participation”

Those who, for reasons of conscience, refuse to facilitate morally contested procedures by referral or other indirect means should take note of the World Medical Association’s reaffirmation of its position against physician “participation” in executions, which now includes a statement that physicians must not facilitate executions by importing drugs for executions.  Similarly, the British group, Reprieve, has embarked upon a campaign to have drug companies sign a Pharmaceutical Hippocratic Oath against the use of their products in executions.  [Bioedge]