‘Wrongful birth’ award in Oregon

Parents of a child with Down Syndrome have been awarded  $2.9 million (U.S.) damages on the grounds that they would have aborted her had the condition been diagnosed during pregnancy.  The award is based on the estimated extra lifetime costs of caring for someone with Down syndrome. [ABC News]

Patient lifestyles cited as reason to deny services in Britain

Britain’s National Health Service is denying access to various services provided by the state health care system because of patient lifestyles.  Smokers and those who are considered overweight are denied some operations or procedures in about a quarter of the country’s health care regions.  Physicians and others are critical of the decisions because they say they are being made for fiscal, not clinical reasons.  Health care administrators claim that they are medically justified. [Daily Mail]


Resistance to protection of concience bill in Nebraska

Opposition to LB461 from various sources, including the Nebraska Board of Medicine and Surgery, the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the Nebraska Psychological Association is generating resistance to the bill in the legislature, and may prevent the bill from proceeding further. Supporters of the bill include Family First of Nebraska, Nebraska Catholic Conference, Americans United for Life and the Nebraska Family Council.[Omaha World Herald; Associated Press]


Controversial Philippines bill may see action by month’s end

The Majority Leader in the Philippines House of Representatives and the House Speaker are reported to be in agreement that the controversial Reproductive Health Bill (RH Bill) should be voted on before a five week Congressional recess that begins on 23 March.[Philippine Star]



U.S. veterans recall secret drug experiments

American soldiers were used by the U.S. military as guinea pigs in the testing of a variety of drugs like nerve gas, incapacitating agents like BZ, tear gas, barbiturates, tranquilizers, narcotics and hallucinogens like LSD.  Tests were conducted up until the late 1960’s at what is now the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center.  Veterans involved have begun a lawsuit seeking compensation for harm that is alleged to have been suffered as a result of the tests. [CNN]  The story of the tests provides an example of the kind of situation in which conscientious objection by health care workers, had it occurred, might now, in retrospect, seem to have been justified.


Arizona House passes bill to protect freedom of conscience for objecting employers

The Arizona House of Representatives has passed bill HB2625 to amend state legislation to provide a religious exemption to the state’s own mandate for insurance coverage for contraception.  The amendment will also revoke the narrow definition of “religious employer” that was copied in the federal regulation at the centre of a controversy about religious freedom in the United States.


US Senate narrowly rejects protection of conscience measure

By a vote of 51-48, the United States Senate rejected an amendment in the form of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011, which Senator Roy Blunt had moved to have appended to a bill.  Three Democratic senators voted in favour of the amendment.[News release][CNN]  In response to the vote, a spokesman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said that the bishops “will not rest until the protection of conscience rights is restored and the First Amendment is returned to its place of respect in the Bill of Rights.” [USCCB news release]