Letter to Members of Parliament and Senators, Parliament of Canada

Re: Bill C-14 – An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying)

[Individually addressed]

On behalf of the Protection of Conscience Project I am writing to you concerning Bill C-14. The Project was an intervener in the Carter case at the Supreme Court of Canada. It does not take a position on the acceptability of euthanasia or assisted suicide.

The Project submitted a brief to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights by the deadline, but (like many others) it was not distributed to Committee members before they concluded their deliberations. In view of this, the time constraints and the serious nature of the subject, it was decided to write directly to Members of Parliament and Senators.

. . . Enclosed is the amendment to Bill C-14 proposed by the Project. Ironically, perhaps, what the Protection of Conscience proposes is not a protection of conscience amendment. . . .The proposed amendment would establish that, as a matter of law and national public policy, no one can be compelled to become a party to homicide or suicide, or punished or disadvantaged for refusing to do so. . .
Project Letter

New Obama rule threatens to force hospitals to perform abortions

Liveaction News

Calvin Freiburger

President Barack Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services has issued a new administrative rule that could force any hospital or health provider receiving Medicaid funding or any insurer participating in the Obamacare marketplaces to provide abortions.

HHS’s summary says the rule’s purpose is to prohibit sex discrimination in health care, which the rule defines as including “termination of pregnancy.” In addition to losing Medicaid funds, violators of the rule may be faced with civil suits as well as legal action by the Justice Department, upon it taking effect on July 18. . . [Full Text]

Pfizer’s freedom of thought

 The Blade


Pfizer Inc. – the pharmaceutical giant – has taken a bold stance against the use of its drugs for executions, one that will please many progressive opponents of the death penalty.

The drug company announced the following policy: If a government agency wants Pfizer to supply it with drugs of kinds sometimes used in (or considered for use in) lethal injections, it will have to certify that it is buying the drugs for medical, not punitive, use, and that it won’t resell them. Pfizer also said it will “act upon findings that reveal noncompliance.”

Thus, in practical terms, the policy will function as a ban on the use of Pfizer drugs in executions. . . [Full Text]


Amended C-14 includes nod to conscience protection

Catholic Register

Deborah Gyapong

OTTAWA – An amendment to Canada’s proposed assisted suicide legislation fails to go far enough to protect conscience rights and religious freedom, say several opponents.

The Justice Committee voted to amend Bill C-14 to add a clause that says no one should be compelled to participate in euthanasia and assisted suicide. But Conservative MPs, medical and legal representatives want further amendments before Bill C-14 becomes law, expected by June 6.

The committee added a clause May 11 that says: “For greater certainty, nothing in this section compels an individual to provide or assist in providing medical assistance in dying.” It also amended the preamble to stipulate that the bill recognizes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees regarding freedom of conscience and religion.

But the bill still fails to provide protection for institutions that refuse to participate in assisted suicide or address the issue of referrals. . .[Full Text]


Canadian Prime Minister, Attorney General and Minister of health lead vote against freedom of conscience

Vote in Canadian House of Commons appears to reflect intention to enable provincial governments to coerce participation in homicide and suicide

Sean Murphy*

With their euthanasia/assisted suicide Bill C-14 about to be debated in the Canadian House of Commons, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Attorney General/Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould and Health Minister Jane Philpott led the governing Liberal Party in a vote in the House against freedom of conscience for health care providers.

The vote was occasioned by a motion proposed by Conservative M.P. Arnold Viersen of Peace River-Westlock:

Vote No 61, 42nd Parliament, 1st Session, Sitting No. 57, 17 May, 2016

That, in the opinion of the House:

(a) it is in the public interest to protect the freedom of conscience of a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or any other health care professional who objects to take part, directly or indirectly, in the provision of medical assistance in dying;

(b) everyone has freedom of conscience and religion under section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;

(c) a regime that would require a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or any other health care professional to make use of effective referral of patients could infringe on the freedom of conscience of those medical practitioners, nurse practitioners, pharmacists or any other health care professional; and

(d) the government should support legislation to protect the freedom of conscience of a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or any other health care professional.

Not all members of all parties were present in the House when the vote was taken.  Since MPs may be absent during a vote for various reasons, it is not possible to establish to what extent absenteeism reflected indecision or unwillingness to vote against a party line on the part of individual members.

96 opposition MPs supported freedom of conscience:

Conservatives (98 members): 90/90 present

New Democratic Party (44 members): 5/40 present

Green Party (1 member): 1/1 present

214 MPs opposed freedom of conscience:

Bloc Quebecois (10 members): 10/10 present

New Democratic Party (44 members): 35/40 present

Liberal Party (184 members): 169/169 present

MPs voting against freedom of conscience

NDP:  (Total of 44 elected)

  1. Niki Ashton
  2. Robert Aubin
  3. Sheri Benson
  4. Rachel Blaney
  5. Alexander Boulerice
  6. Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet
  7. Ruth Ellen Brosseau
  8. Richard Cannings
  9. Guy Caron
  10. Francois Choquette
  11. David Christopherson
  12. Nathan Cullen
  13. Fin Donnelly
  14. Matthew Dubé
  15. Linda Duncan
  16. Pierre-Luc Dusseault
  17. Scott Duvall
  18. Randall Garrison
  19. Cheryl Hardcastle
  20. Carol Hughes
  21. Peter Julian
  22. Jenny Kwan
  23. Hélène Laverdière
  24. Brian Masse
  25. Irene Mathyssen
  26. Thomas Mulcair
  27. Pierre Nantel
  28. Anne Minh-Thu Quach
  29. Tracey Ramsey
  30. Murray Rankin
  31. Romeo Saganash
  32. Brigitte Sansoucy
  33. Wayne Stetski
  34. Kennedy Stewart
  35. Karine Trudel

Liberal (Total of 184 elected)

  1. John Aldag
  2. Omar Alghabra
  3. Leona Alleslev
  4. William Amos
  5. Gary Anandasangaree
  6. René Arsenault
  7. Chandra Ayra
  8. Ramez Ayoub
  9. Vance Badawey
  10. Larry Bagnell
  11. Navdeep Bains
  12. Frank Baylis
  13. Terry Beech
  14. Carolyn Bennett
  15. Chris Bittle
  16. Bill Blair
  17. Randy Boissonnault
  18. Mike Bossio
  19. Bob Bratina
  20. Pierre Breton
  21. Scott Brison
  22. Celina Caesar-Chavannes
  23. Jim Carr
  24. Sean Casey
  25. Bardish Chagger
  26. Francois-Philippe Champagne
  27. Shaun Chen
  28. Serge Cormier
  29. Rodger Cuzner
  30. Julie Dabrusin
  31. Pam Damoff
  32. Matt DeCourcey
  33. Sukh Dhaliwal
  34. Anju Dhillon
  35. Nicola Di Iorio
  36. Francis Drouin
  37. Emmanuel Dubourg
  38. Jean-Yves Duclos
  39. Terry Duguid
  40. Julie Dzerowicz
  41. Wayne Easter
  42. Ali Ehsassi
  43. Fayçal Al-Khoury
  44. Neil Ellis
  45. Nthaniel Erskine-Smith
  46. Mark Eyking
  47. Doug Eyolfson
  48. Greg Fergus
  49. Andy Fillmore
  50. Pat Finnigan
  51. Darren Fisher
  52. Peter Fonseca
  53. Judy Foote
  54. Peter Fragiskatos
  55. Colin Fraser
  56. Sean Fraser
  57. Stephen Fuhr
  58. Mark Gerretsen
  59. Pam Goldsmith-Jones
  60. Ralph Goodale
  61. Karina Gould
  62. David de Burgh Graham
  63. Raj Grewal
  64. Ken Hardie
  65. T.J. Harvey
  66. Kent Hehr
  67. Mark Holland
  68. Anthony Housefather
  69. Ahmed Hussen
  70. Gudie Hutchings
  71. Angelo Iacono
  72. Mélanie Joly
  73. Yvonne Jones
  74. Bernadette Jordan
  75. Majid Jowhari
  76. Darshan Singh Kang
  77. Iqra Khalid
  78. Kamal Khera
  79. David Lametti
  80. Kevin Lamoureux
  81. Linda Lapointe
  82. Stéphane Lauzon
  83. Dominic LeBlanc
  84. Diane Labouthillier
  85. Paul Lefebvre
  86. Denis Lemieux
  87. Andrew Leslie
  88. Michael Levitt
  89. Joël Lightbound
  90. Alaina Lockhart
  91. Wayne Long
  92. Lloyd Longfield
  93. Karen Ludwig
  94. Lawrence MacAulay
  95. Steven MacKinnon
  96. James Maloney
  97. Rémi Massé
  98. Bryan May
  99. John McCallum
  100. Karen McCrimmon
  101. Ken McDonald
  102. David McGuinty
  103. John McKay
  104. Ron McKinnon
  105. Michael McLeod
  106. Marco Mendicino
  107. MaryAnn Mihychuk
  108. Marc Miller
  109. Maryam Monsef
  110. Robert Morrissey
  111. Joyce Murray
  112. Eva Nassif
  113. Robert Nault
  114. Jennifer O’Connell
  115. Robert Oliphant
  116. John Oliver
  117. Seamus O’Regan
  118. Denis Paradis
  119. Joe Peschisolido
  120. Kyle Peterson
  121. Ginette Petitpas Taylor
  122. Jane Philpott
  123. Michel Picard
  124. Jean-Claude Poissant
  125. Carla Qualtrough
  126. Yasmin Ratansi
  127. Jean Rioux
  128. Yves Robillard
  129. Pablo Rodrguez
  130. Sherry Romanado
  131. Anthony Rota
  132. Kim Rudd
  133. Dan Ruimy
  134. Don Rusnak
  135. Ruby Sahota
  136. Raj Saini
  137. Harjit S. Sajjan
  138. Darrell Samson
  139. Ramesh Sangha
  140. Randeep Sarai
  141. Francis Scarpaleggia
  142. Peter Schiefke
  143. Deborah Schulte
  144. Marc Serré
  145. Judy A. Sgro
  146. Brenda Shanahan
  147. Terry Sheehan
  148. Jati Sidhu
  149. Sonia Sidhu
  150. Gagan Sikand
  151. Scott Simms
  152. Amarjeet Sohi
  153. Francesco Sorbara
  154. Sven Spengemann
  155. Marwan Tabbara
  156. Geng Tan
  157. Filomena Tassi
  158. Hunter Tootoo
  159. Justin Trudeau
  160. Dan Vandal
  161. Anita Vandenbeld
  162. Adam Vaughan
  163. Arif Virani
  164. Nick Whalen
  165. Jonathon Wilkinson
  166. Jody Wilson-Raybould
  167. Borys Wrzesnewskyj
  168. Kate Young
  169. Selma Zahid

Bloc Quebecois (Total of 10 elected)

  1. Xavier Barsalou-Duval
  2. Mario Beaulieu
  3. Michel Boudrias
  4. Rhéal Fortin
  5. Marilène Gill
  6. Simon Marcil
  7. Monique Pauzé
  8. Louis Plamondon
  9. Gabriel Ste. Marie
  10. Luc Thériault

Source: Parliamentary web page

Pope Francis: conscientious objection must be recognized as a human right

Sean Murphy*

In an interview conducted on 9 May by Guillame Goubert & Sébatien Maillard on behalf of La Croix, Pope Francis asserted that secular states must recognize conscientious objection as a human right. (Translation by Stephan Gigacz)

In a secular setting, how should Catholics defend their concerns on societal issues such as euthanasia or same-sex marriage?

Pope Francis: It is up to Parliament to discuss, argue, explain, reason [these issues]. That is how a society grows.

However, once a law has been adopted, the state must also respect [people’s] consciences. The right to conscientious objection must be recognized within each legal structure because it is a human right. Including for a government official, who is a human person. The state must also take criticism into account. That would be a genuine form of laicity.

You cannot sweep aside the arguments of Catholics by simply telling them that they “speak like a priest.” No, they base themselves on the kind of Christian thinking that France has so remarkably developed. [Full Text]

ACLU renews attack on Catholic hospitals over abortion

Baptist Press

Samantha Gobba

ASHEVILLE, N.C.(BP) — The American Civil Liberties Union is launching a renewed attack against religious hospitals, claiming they should not be allowed to base the care they provide on the dictates of their sincerely held beliefs.

In a report released in May, titled “Health Care Denied,” the ACLU targets Catholic hospitals, saying they jeopardize women’s lives because they “prohibit a range of reproductive health services,” including abortion, when something goes wrong during pregnancy.

Grazie Pozo Christie, a Miami-area radiologist and a Catholic, said claims of care being denied are false.

“When a woman’s life is in danger, any treatment that a woman needs will be provided to her, even if it endangers the child,” Christie told WORLD News Service. “So there is no point in a Catholic hospital at which a woman’s life becomes really in danger.” . . .[Full Text]


Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights

House of Commons, Parliament of Canada (May, 2016)

Re: Bill C-14


In February, 2015, in the case of Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the criminal prohibition of physician assisted suicide and physician administered euthanasia, but suspended the ruling for one year to give federal and provincial governments an opportunity to draft new laws that conform to the decision.  In January, 2016, the Court granted an extension of the suspension to 6 June, 2016.  In the interim, it allowed euthanasia to proceed in Quebec under provincial legislation in force there, and allowed individuals seeking physician assisted suicide or euthanasia elsewhere to apply to a superior court to obtain authorization.

A special joint committee of the Canadian House of Commons and Senate began work in January and produced a first report in the last week of February.  On 14 April, 2016, the Liberal government introduced Bill C-14 to implement the Carter decision.  The House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights was responsible for reviewing the bill, amending it if need be, and returning it to the House of Commons for third reading.

Five hearings were held from 2 to 5 May, during which witnesses made presentations.  The Commitee also solicited submissions from the public, and specifically solicited submissions from the Protection of Conscience Project and others, with a deadline of 2 May, 2016.

The Project’s submission met the deadline.  However, it was not distributed to Committee members before the Committee concluded its deliberations on 11 May.  It is likely that an unknown number of other briefs submitted by the public were also not distributed.

For details and links to Committee materials and presentations relevant to freedom of conscience, including extracts from briefs and edited videos with transcripts, visit the Project’s Standing Committee web page.

New RCM abortion statement is a further assault on freedom of conscience

Christian Medical Fellowship Blogs

Steve Fouch

Fallout from the Glasgow Midwives case continues to roll out. This month the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) released (rather quietly) their new position statement on abortion. The case of Doogan & Wood highlighted an issue with the conscientious objection clause in the 1967 Abortion Act. Specifically this was around what constituted actually being involved in an abortion procedure.

The two senior midwives at a Glaswegian maternity unit made it clear that they did not wish to be responsible for supervising junior staff involved in termination of pregnancy procedures on the basis of a conscientious objection to abortion.

Although the Scottish Court of Appeal upheld their claim, The Supreme Court eventually ruled that they had no right to opt out of supervision, delegation or support of junior staff, as the right to conscientious objection only applied to those involved in direct, clinical procedures. Supervisory roles or other areas of care could not be subject to the right to conscientious objection in the Abortion Act. . . [Full Text]

Will hospitals reject California’s assisted suicide law?

Los Angeles Times

David Lazarus

Medical leaders at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena voted behind closed doors this week for the facility’s hundreds of doctors and affiliated personnel to opt out of California’s assisted suicide law, which goes into effect June 9.

If the proposed amendment to the hospital’s medical rules is approved by the board of directors this month, Huntington will become one of the largest non-religious medical institutions statewide to turn its back on a law that Gov. Jerry Brown called “a comfort” to anyone “dying in prolonged and excruciating pain.”

The End of Life Option Act allows doctors, medical groups and hospitals to opt out of the law’s guidelines for assisting the terminally ill achieve a dignified end. Most, if not all, religious hospitals are expected to reject the law.

It’s unclear at this point if Huntington is an outlier among secular facilities or representative of a wave of opt-outs to be revealed by month’s end. The California Hospital Assn. was unable to provide an estimate for the number of institutions considering a similar move. . . [Full Text]