45 year old identical twin brothers were killed by lethal injection at Brussels University hospital, in Jette, Belgium, by physicians acting under the country’s euthanasia law. The twins, who were deaf, had learned that they were going blind, and decided to be killed rather than never see each other again. The Belgian government has prpoosed an amendment to further expand grounds for euthanasia. [Daily Mail]
. . . the exercise of freedom of conscience is made impossible or ridiculous, and exposes those who claim the exemption to prosecution for human rights violations. . . it is not clear whether this part of the bill has been deliberately constructed as an obstacle to conscientious objection, or if it is simply the product of appalling legislative draftsmanship. Full Text
Charles C. Haynes
Let’s start the New Year with a conundrum as old as the Republic:
When religious convictions clash with secular laws, how far should government go to accommodate religious claims of conscience? . . .In 2013, religious objections to government laws and regulations will once again provoke vigorous public debate, countless court challenges and really tough decisions over whether and when government should accommodate religious claims of conscience. [Read on]
Judges suggest compassionate exception might be made
A three judge panel of the Irish High Court has rejected a suit by a woman suffering from multiple sclerosis to strike down the absolute ban on assisted suicide. The court held that it would be impossible to craft an exemption to cover her particular case that would not have implications for other cases and ultimately endanger other vulnerable people. The Court also ruled that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) cannot issue guidelines to indicate what factors would be considered in deciding whether or not to prosecute someone for assisting a suicide, nor can the DPP be consulted in advance in particular cases. However, the judges commented that the DPP might exercise discretion if there were reliable evidence of compliance with factors similar to those set out in prosecution guidelines issed by the Director of Public Prosecutions in England. They added that they were sure that the Irish DPP would exercise discretion humanely and with sensitivity. The decision is likely to be appealed. [Irish Times; Appeal Likely]
A panel of three judges in Edinburgh is hearing arguments in an appeal by two midwives who were ordered to supervise provision of abortion in the National Health Service Greater Glasgow and Clyde region. A lower court ruled that the protection of conscience provision in the 1967 Abortion Act did not apply to them. [BBC] The case turns upon the definition of “participation,” which is not set out in the Act.
- Midwives to appeal court ruling against freedom of conscience
- Statement by Glasgow midwives after abortion judgment
- Scottish judge rules objecting midwives can be forced to facilitate abortions
- Midwives in Scotland go to court over forced facilitation of abortion
The Life Issues Institute reports that ads are being run on Facebook in the United Kingdom that offer women assistance in finding nearby abortion facilities, including late-term abortion specialists. The ads demonstrate that there is no need to force objecting health care workers to facilitate abortion by referral or by providing abortionist contact information, as access to abortion can be easily facilitated by popular social media and websites.
The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012
- See the outline of The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012.
- It sets out the sections that are of particular interest to freedom of conscience issues.
- Text of the law is on the left, Project comment on the right.
- Researchers should consult the full text of the law.
- For information about earlier drafts of the law, see Philippines “RH Bill” of 2011: the shape of things to come? and The “RH Bill” (2011) in brief.