Unbiased and ethical journalists exist

Charles Lewis

I attended the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition 2016 Symposium in Windsor, ON., recently. I am writing this to address something that deeply concerns me about what I heard, over and over, about the media.

Speaker after speaker blamed the media for much of the misinformation about euthanasia and a general hostility towards our cause.

The media is not perfect. But nor is any profession perfect. We all have encountered bad dentists, indifferent doctors, inept lawyers and lax government officials. Though the difference is most of us do not condemn the entire profession. . . [Full text]

Health professionals to court: Don’t allow Vermont to force us to help kill patients

 News Release

Alliance Defending Freedom

RUTLAND, Vt. – Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden and ADF-allied attorney Michael Tierney will be available for media interviews Tuesday following a federal court hearing in a health care professionals’ lawsuit against Vermont officials in two state agencies. The medical professionals are asking the court to stop those agencies from forcing physicians and other health care workers to help kill their patients while their lawsuit proceeds and are asking the court to reject the agencies’ request to dismiss the lawsuit.

ADF attorneys and Tierney represent the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare and the Christian Medical and Dental Association, groups of medical professionals who wish to abide by their oath to “do no harm.”

“The government shouldn’t be telling health care professionals that they must violate foundational medical ethics in order to practice medicine,” said Aden, who will argue before the court Tuesday. “Because the state has no authority to order them to act contrary to that reasonable and time-honored conviction, we are asking the court to allow this lawsuit to proceed and to ensure that no state agency is able to force them to violate their ethics while this lawsuit moves forward.”

The state agencies, the Board of Medical Practice and the Office of Professional Regulation, are reading the state’s assisted suicide law to require health care professionals, regardless of their conscience or oath, to counsel patients on doctor-prescribed death as an option. Although Act 39, Vermont’s assisted suicide bill, passed with a very limited protection for attending physicians who don’t wish to dispense death-inducing drugs themselves, state medical licensing authorities have construed a separate, existing mandate to counsel and refer for “all options” for palliative care to include a mandate that all patients hear about the “option” of assisted suicide.

As the brief in support of the requested motion for preliminary injunction in Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare v. Hoser explains, “Vermont’s Act 39 makes the State the first and only one to mandate that all licensed healthcare professionals counsel terminal patients about the availability and procedures for physician-assisted suicide, and refer them to willing prescribers to dispense the death-dealing drug. Act 39 coerces professionals to counsel patients about the ‘benefits’ of assisted suicide—benefits that Plaintiffs’ members do not believe exist—and in addition stands in opposition to a federal law protecting healthcare professionals who cannot participate in assisted suicide for conscientious reasons.”

“Because Plaintiffs’ attempts to repeal or amend the law have proven futile, and enforcement is imminent,” the brief continues, “Plaintiffs…[ask] for a preliminary injunction enjoining Defendants from enforcing the provisions of Act 39…and its incorporated statutes…against their members for declining to counsel or refer patients diagnosed with ‘terminal conditions’ on the availability of physician-assisted suicide.”


Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

 

Management of late gestation abortion of concern in Birmingham Women’s NHS Foundation Trust

Sean Murphy*

According to an inspection report of the Birmingham Women’s National Health Service Foundation Trust, the facility did not consistently provide women seeking abortion with information to prepare them for the possibility of the survival of an infant following a late gestation abortion, including the need to notify the coroner should the infant die. (p. 4, 15)  Apparently the outpatients’ clinic provided patients with this information verbally. (p. 16)

The effect of late term abortions on staff and patients is described as “distressing,”  one of the risks in need of identification, monitoring and mitigation(p.6).  Ward staff felt unprepared to respond to late term abortions involving the survival of an infant (p. 6), several complaining that they “had not received training that would equip them to deal with the physical and emotional aspects of advanced gestation abortions.” (p. 15, 18)

One issue was the need to develop “differential care pathways,” apparently related to decisions about how to manage a surviving or deceased infant based on the reason for the abortion. (p. 16)

Staff involved in what the report describes as a “new complex termination of pregnancy service” were not adequately prepared or engaged before it began, and “continued to express concerns” over a year after its introduction.  Staff had been allowed to opt out of the service, but several (apparently among those who remained) complained about “distress to women and how they felt ill prepared to care for them.” (p. 31)

The report also states, without explanation, “The trust must ensure all HSA1 certificates for termination of pregnancy are fully completed by the registered medical practitioners signing them.” (p. 34)  This may reflect a continuing problem with certification by physicians of the need for abortions, which is a legal requirement.  Among problems previously identified was the practice of signing the forms in advance without actually seeing a patient.

These elements of the report illustrate the practical realities that inform the decisions of some health care personnel who refuse to provide or participate in abortion.

 

 

 

Ontario adds wording to legislation recognizing conscience rights of hospitals

Toronto Sun

Liz Payne

The Ontario government has quietly amended its proposed Patients First Act with wording that appears to strengthen the rights of faith-based hospitals to opt out of assisted death.

The proposed amendment, which was not originally in the act, appeared when it was re-tabled last month after the legislature was prorogued. The act, according to the province, is aimed at improving health care for patients and their families. . . [Full text]

‘Freedom of conscience’ a must, says doctor

Catholic Register

Michael Swan

TORONTO – It’s rare for an hour-long, academic lecture to get a standing ovation, but Dr. Ewan Goligher earned thunderous applause from about 100 people who turned up on a cold, rainy night to hear his defence of medical conscience.

The Toronto intensive care physician and researcher has become one of the leading voices opposing efforts to force doctors to make an “effective referral” for assisted suicide.

Goligher maintains that for the sake of medicine and democratic society, doctors must have a right to conscientious objection — not just for abortion but also for assisted killing.

“Freedom of conscience in the practice of medicine has been seriously eroded in recent years,” Goligher warned at the second annual deVeber Institute lecture delivered at the University of Toronto’s Wycliffe College on Oct. 27. . . [Full text]

Christian-Run Nursing Home in Switzerland Forced to Allow Assisted Suicide or Lose Charitable Status

Christian Post

Stoyan Zaimov

A Christian nursing home run by the Salvation Army in Switzerland has been told that it must either allow assisted suicide despite its religious beliefs, or lose its charitable status.

The nursing home mounted a legal challenge against the country’s new assisted suicide rules which require charities taking care of the sick or elderly and to offer assisted suicide when a patient asks for it, Catholic Herald reports. But a Swiss court ruled against the nursing home earlier this month. . .[Full text]

 

Euthanasia Activists Have Taken Over Canadian Thought

Huffington Post

Will Johnston

The Canadian euthanasia issue marks a time of upheaval in medical ethics and the healthcare system which could be compared to events a century ago in Russia.

The Bolsheviks were not preordained to take over from the previous government, but their ruthlessness and aggression were unmatched. They demonized competing ideas and purged the social structures. They made their own laws. Nothing was allowed to stand. All was justified for public good, the good of the Proletariat.

The polite Canadian version seems to be that all control is justified by public funding. If a hospital accepts public money, a uniformity of euthanasia access is expected, a literally deadening uniformity.

People who would be ignored if they insisted that all welfare recipients be required to think alike, or that all Canada Council grants be used to create the same work of art, grab attention by bullying Catholic caregivers and hospitals which, like all hospitals, could not survive without tax dollars. . . [Full text]

The Ethics of Conscientious Objection in Health Care

deVeber Institute
Annual Public Lecture with Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto

In the wake of the legalization of physician-assisted death, conscientious objection in medicine has become a matter of considerable controversy. Some bioethicists have called for severe restrictions on the physician’s capacity to object to patient requests on ethical grounds, and some Colleges of Physicians have enacted such restrictions.

This issue raises fundamentally important questions: what is the basis of the physician’s professional obligations? To what extent is the physician obligated to honour patient requests? What is the goal and purpose of medical practice? How can we resolve differences in ethical beliefs in a deeply pluralistic society? This controversy engages contested ethical, political and religious matters and promises to influence patient care and the practice of medicine in Canada in coming years. This lecture aims to chart a course through these muddied waters.

Conscience, compassion and health care

Angelus

Archbishop José Gomez

On Oct. 23, we celebrated our annual White Mass for those in the healing professions of medicine and health care at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

As we know, Christians have been doctors and nurses from the earliest days of the Church. Before Christianity, the healing arts were practiced by self-taught individuals who traveled from town to town. Christians invented the hospital and were the first to establish medicine as a profession, with standards for training and care and a commitment to medical research.

From the beginning, Christian doctors served everyone, regardless of religion or social status, and they refused to turn any patient away — even those with highly contagious diseases.

Historians tell us that Christians were the only ones who cared for the sick and dying during the plagues and epidemics that afflicted the late Roman Empire. Many of them died from diseases they contracted from their patients.

Something else distinguished early Christian doctors — from the beginning they refused to take part in abortion, infanticide, birth control, assisted suicide or castration, all of which they considered bad medical practice and contrary to the truths of the Gospel.

These basic commitments continue to distinguish Catholic and Christian doctors and nurses. But these are challenging times in health care. . . [Full text]

Don’t exploit death of Italian woman to push abortion, ethicist says

Catholic News Agency

Catania, Italy, Oct 26, 2016 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The tragic death of a mother in Italy after late-term pregnancy complications and miscarriage is being pinned on the doctor’s refusal to perform a late-term abortion, despite appearances that the mother died of complications of the miscarriage.

The case  is complex, John F. Brehany, PhD, an ethicist for the National Catholic Bioethics Center, told CNA in a statement. “At a minimum, there seems to be a profound disagreement about what was said between the physician and the hospital, and the patient and her family. “Hopefully, this tragedy will not be exploited to promote abortion on demand or to undermine respect for the rights of conscience of physicians and other healthcare providers.”

The family of Valentina Milluzzo, who died at Cannizzaro hospital in the Sicilian city of Catania, allege that she passed away because her doctor was a  “conscientious objector” to abortion and thus did not perform an abortion after she suffered pregnancy complications. The hospital denies that this is the case, and the head of the hospital, Angelo Pellicano, told Ansa news agency that the doctor did not have a conscientious objection to abortion, but that there was a spontaneous miscarriage that was forced by serious circumstances. . . [Full text]