Christian doctors continue the fight for conscience protections

Christian Medical & Dental Associations will appeal decision blocking Trump admin Conscience Rule

News Release

Becket

WASHINGTON – Religious medical professionals in New York have announced that they appealed a district court’s decision to block vital conscience protections for doctors and nurses. In New York v. HHS, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is defending Dr. Regina Frost and the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA) from attempts by Planned Parenthood and New York officials to force religious doctors to perform life-ending procedures that violate their consciences. The Trump administration has until Jan. 6 to join the appeal from the district court’s decision, which struck down one of the administration’s signature regulations.

In May 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a Conscience Rule to better enforce longstanding, bipartisan laws that, for decades, have promised to allow religious doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals to serve patients without being required to violate their consciences. Medical professionals of all faith backgrounds and with moral objections rely on these well established protections. The Rule holds HHS funding recipients to agreements that they made under existing federal statutes to accommodate religious health professionals. But several states and abortion provider and advocacy organizations—including the State of New York and Planned Parenthood, which have long accepted HHS funds—immediately sued to avoid enforcement of their existing agreements under the Rule and to push religious healthcare professionals like Dr. Frost out of the medical profession.

“My faith is at the heart of who I am. It is what drives me to put the needs of women and their children first every day, and to serve everyone in my care with dignity and respect,” said Dr. Regina Frost. “If the government forces me to violate my faith and my medical judgment to perform abortions, I’ll have no choice but to leave the profession.”

Dr. Frost is an OB-GYN and one of nearly 19,000 medical professionals in CMDA serving vulnerable populations in the United States and abroad. Across the country, CMDA members serve the homeless, prisoners living with HIV, and victims of opioid addiction, sex trafficking, and gang violence. Overseas, CMDA members serve in war zones, refugee clinics, and remote areas without quality healthcare. The lawsuit by Planned Parenthood and New York needlessly threatens the health and well-being of at-risk, underserved populations across the globe. New polling shows that healthcare professionals are committed to serving all patients but are facing increasing pressures to perform in certain procedures, which they believe end life and violate their faith—and these pressures could force 91 percent of religious doctors out of the medical field.

In Nov. 2019, a New York district court ruled against the Conscience Rule. Yesterday, Dr. Frost and CMDA appealed this ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The deadline for the Trump administration to appeal the district court’s decision is Jan. 6, 2020.

“Like an ideological Grinch stealing conscience rights, Planned Parenthood is robbing not only religious doctors and nurses but also the patients that they serve,” said Daniel Blomberg, senior counsel at Becket. “To hear Planned Parenthood tell it, one pro-life OB-GYN is one too many. That’s wrong and it’s bad for healthcare. In a big, diverse country like ours, we can ensure that everyone will receive the care they need while still respecting the consciences of religious doctors and nurses.”

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, contact Ryan Colby at media@becketlaw.org or 202-349-7219. Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, or Spanish.

Judge rejects requiring doctors to perform transition surgery, abortions

Crux

Catholic News Service

WICHITA FALLS, Texas – By annulling an Obama administration requirement that doctors perform gender transition procedures or treatments, as well as abortions, a federal judge in Texas has upheld the conscience rights of medical professionals across the nation, said a lawyer for plaintiffs in the case.

“It is critically important that doctors are able to continue serving patients in keeping with their consciences and their professional medical judgment, especially when it comes to the personal health choices of families and children,” said Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel at Becket, a Washington-based nonprofit religious liberty law firm. . . [Full text]

Distinguishing between elective abortions and other medical interventions

Joint response to ACOG

News Release

American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Christian Medical Dental Association, American College of Pediatricians

As organizations representing over 25,000 medical professionals, we would like to correct the errors and assumptions of the recently released joint statement from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and Physicians for Reproductive Health (PRH).

We state unequivocally that there is a difference between elective abortion – a procedure done to ensure that a baby is born dead -and the separation of the mother and the baby in order to save the life of the mother. ACOG leadership is deceptively hiding behind the confusion about the meaning of the word “abortion” to imply that such treatments to save the life of the mother are the same as elective abortions.

A separation procedure to treat maternal pathology INTENDS to save the lives of both the mother and her baby if possible. In contrast, an abortion, which the general public understands to mean “elective abortion”, INTENDS to deliver a dead baby. That is why a baby born ALIVE after an elective abortion is called a “Failed Abortion”. The separation of the baby from the mother did not fail. What failed to occur is that her baby “failed” to be killed.

We are glad that ACOG and PRH leadership recognize what all pro-life obstetricians know – that sometimes treatments which result in the separation of the mother and the baby are necessary to save the mother’s life. However, ACOG and PRH leadership disingenuously imply in their statement that these life saving procedures are the same as elective abortions.

The ACOG leaders’ advocacy of elective abortion is out of step with the 85% of OB/GYN’s who do not perform abortions. Their extreme advocacy for elective abortion through birth does not represent the majority opinion of either ACOG membership, or the majority opinion of all the rest of the obstetricians and gynecologists in this country.

Respectfully,

Donna J. Harrison M.D. dip. ABOG
Executive Director
American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Mike Chupp MD, FACS, FCS(ECSA) CEO
Christian Medical Dental Association

Michelle Cretella, M.D.
Executive Director
American College of Pediatricians

Click Here to Download PDF

World medical body pushes back on conscience fight

The Catholic Register

Michael Swan

The international society of Catholic doctors is using Canada as an example of what can go wrong when doctors are forced to refer for abortion.

The World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations is drawing on Canada’s experience to counter proposals before the World Medical Association to adopt forced referrals and signal ethical acceptance for euthanasia. . . [Full Text]

Catholic Medical Association Joins with 25,000 Physicians Fighting Proposed Global Abortion Policy to Strip Conscience Rights Protections

News Release

Catholic Medical Association

PHILADELPHIA, PA – FEBRUARY 12, 2018 – Conscience rights protections for health care providers in the U.S. and abroad are once again under attack. The World Medical Association (WMA) representing 10 million physicians worldwide is poised to approve a policy that would demand doctors refer for abortion, even against their conscience.

Although current federal statutes in the U.S. protect health care provider’s conscience rights and prohibit recipients of certain federal funds from discriminating against health care providers, WMA ethics policies greatly impact future regulations of the medical profession globally.

The WMA was founded in 1947 in response to Nazi atrocities during WW II. The organization promotes itself as “evaluating and codifying ethics in healthcare.” Currently the WMA policy requires doctors ensure continuity of care for patients who choose abortion, but not force doctors refer for the procedure. However, the WMA’s proposed revision threatens the conscience rights of all physicians and health care professionals by proposing the following amendment:

“Individual doctors have a right to conscientious objection to providing abortion, but that right does not entitle them to impede or deny access to lawful abortion services because it delays care for women, putting their health and life at risk. In such cases, the physician must refer the woman to a willing and trained health professional in the same, or another easily accessible health-care facility, in accordance with national law. Where referral is not possible, the physician who objects, must provide safe abortion or perform whatever procedure is necessary to save the woman’s life and to prevent serious injury to her health.”

The proposed changes in policy would also eliminate the provision that “requires the physician to maintain respect for human life.”

“We do not believe abortion is healthcare. The international impact on this global abortion policy is incalculable,” said CMA President Dr. Peter T. Morrow. “We join with the representatives of over 25,000 physicians, nurses, health care providers and patient advocates who provide excellent, scientific, ethical and moral healthcare in accordance with the principles of the Oath of Hippocrates. Collectively we request that the WMA’s revision be rejected, it is subversive of physician freedom of conscience concerning abortion in the short term, and euthanasia and assisted suicide in the long term.”

The American Medical Association (AMA) is an associate member of the WMA and can recommend rejections and or revisions.  The CMA supports conscience rights of all healthcare professionals with regards to abortion as well as physician assisted suicide, and is jointly sending a letter co-written by: American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Pediatricians, Christian Medical & Dental Associations, National Association of Catholic Nurses-U.S.A. and The National Catholic Bioethics Center to the AMA strongly denouncing the WMA’s proposed change forcing physicians to violate their conscience rights.

The WMA’s proposed changes could become a global policy. The general assembly is scheduled to vote in October.

Contact:

Susanne LaFrankie, MA
Diector of Communications
email: lafrankie@cathmed.org


The Catholic Medical Association is a national, physician-led community of over 2,400 health care professionals. CMA’s mission is to inform, organize, and inspire its members, to uphold the principles of the Catholic faith in the science and practice of medicine.

Victory for Vermont health professionals after pro-suicide group drops appeal

Compassion & Choices withdraws appeal of court decision that affirmed pro-life physician groups aren’t mandated to counsel, refer for assisted suicide

News Release

Alliance Defending Freedom

RUTLAND, Vt. – A pro-suicide group has dropped its appeal of a federal court’s decision which affirmed that a Vermont law can’t be interpreted to require pro-life health professionals to counsel or refer patients for assisted suicide. As a result, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit officially dismissed the appeal Monday, thus ending the case.

The withdrawal of the appeal by Compassion & Choices leaves in place a consent agreement between physician groups and the Vermont Attorney General’s office, which agreed that the court was correct in deciding that the state’s Act 39 does not force conscientious professionals to ensure all “terminal” patients are informed about the availability of doctor-prescribed death.

“Vermont health care workers just want to act consistently with their reasonable and time-honored convictions without fear of government punishment,” said ADF Senior Counsel Steven H Aden, who argued before the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont in November of last year in Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare v. Hoser. “Conscientious Vermont healthcare professionals are in agreement with the state that the law doesn’t force them to participate in this heinous process, and they are pleased that the nation’s foremost advocate of assisted suicide, Compassion & Choices, has abandoned its effort to force them to do so.”

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and ADF-allied attorney Michael 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.”

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, but state medical licensing authorities 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. For that reason, the groups representing pro-life health professionals filed suit.

The court ruled that the groups lacked a legal right to bring the lawsuit because the law actually doesn’t force them to act contrary to their conscience—a finding that Compassion & Choices initially opposed. The dismissal of the appeal leaves Vermont healthcare professionals free to “do no harm” without fear of retaliation for their pro-life views.


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

# # # | Ref. 50739


Additional resources: Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare v. Hoser

Scroll down to view additional resources pertaining to this case and its surrounding issue.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Previous news releases:

  • 2017-04-05: Vt. health professionals planning next legal steps after decision on conscientious objection to providing suicide info
  • 2016-11-07: Health professionals to court: Don’t allow Vermont to force us to help kill patients
  • 2016-09-26: Health professionals ask court to stop Vermont from forcing them to help kill patients
  • 2016-07-20: Vermont health professionals: Don’t force us to help kill our patients

 

Docs In Northwest Tweak Aid-In-Dying Drugs To Prevent Prolonged Deaths

Kaiser Health News

JoNel Aleccia

Two years after an abrupt price hike for a lethal drug used by terminally ill patients to end their lives, doctors in the Northwest are once again rethinking aid-in-dying medications — this time because they’re taking too long to work.

The concerned physicians say they’ve come up with yet another alternative to Seconal, the powerful sedative that was the drug of choice under Death with Dignity laws until prices charged by a Canadian company doubled to more than $3,000 per dose.

It’s the third drug mixture recommended by the doctors whose medication protocols help guide decisions for prescribers in the six U.S. states where aid-in-dying is allowed. . . [Full text]

What you need to know and do about the new HHS transgender mandate

CMDA – The Point

Jonathon Imbody

What do healthcare professionals and health institutions need to know about and how can they defend themselves from the Obama administration’s newly enacted transgender mandate?

What happened when?
The transgender mandate, promulgated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the assumed authority of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), went into effect July 18, 2016. A new website explains what the mandate requires, why it violates the law and what conscientious objectors can do to protect their rights.

Whom does the rule target?
HHS recently mandated that healthcare professionals must perform gender transition procedures on any child referred by a mental health professional, even if the physician believes the treatment or hormone therapy could harm the child.

Healthcare professionals who follow the Hippocratic Oath to act in the best interest of their patient instead of this new mandate can face severe consequences, including losing their jobs. The transgender mandate also requires virtually all private insurance companies and many employers to cover gender transition procedures or face stiff penalties and legal action. . . [Full text]

Court allows doctors to support hospitals, staff in ACLU suit that seeks to force them to commit abortions

Court grants ADF motion to allow pro-life physician groups to intervene in defense of Catholic hospital network

News Release

American Center for Law and Justice

American Civil Liberties Union v. Trinity Health Corporation: Several pro-life doctor groups have intervened in defense of a Catholic hospital system which the American Civil Liberties Union sued. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent the Catholic Medical Association, the Christian Medical and Dental Association, and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The ACLU’s lawsuit seeks to force Trinity Health Corporation and its staff to commit abortions regardless of their religious and pro-life objections. Trinity Health operates 86 facilities in 21 states.

Attorney sound bites:  Kevin Theriot | Matt Bowman

DETROIT – A federal court agreed Thursday to allow several pro-life doctor groups to intervene in defense of a Catholic hospital system which the American Civil Liberties Union sued last year. In December, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing the Catholic Medical Association, the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists asked the court to allow the groups to intervene.

On March 23, the court will hear arguments on whether to dismiss the ACLU’s lawsuit, which seeks to force Trinity Health and its staff to commit abortions regardless of their religious and pro-life objections. Trinity Health operates 86 facilities in 21 states.

“No American should be forced to commit an abortion,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “No law requires faith-based hospitals and medical personnel to commit abortions against their faith and conscience, and, in fact, federal law directly prohibits the government from engaging in any such coercion. In addition, the government can’t tie any funding to a requirement that hospitals and health care workers give up their constitutionally protected freedoms. We look forward to defending those freedoms in this case.”

“Those who doubt that anyone would ever try to force someone to commit an abortion need only look at this case,” explained ADF Senior Counsel Matt Bowman. “This is precisely what the ACLU is seeking to do. But forcing Catholic hospitals to perform abortions is not only against the law, it makes no sense at all. Patients should always have the freedom to choose a health care facility that respects life and to choose doctors who do not commit abortions.”

“Forcing health care workers to act contrary to the very faith and ethical convictions that led them into the medical profession—to serve, help, and bring healing to people—is counterproductive, unnecessary, and against the law,” Bowman added.

“Here, the Medical Applicants represent members that are affected by the policy directives of the Defendants’ hospitals on a daily basis,” wrote the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, in its order in American Civil Liberties Union v. Trinity Health Corporation. “The outcome of the litigation could have an effect on the day-to-day aspect of their duties as healthcare professionals. Accordingly, finding that the Medical Applicants are regulated by the policy directives at issue, the Medical Applicants are able to intervene as of right.”

  • Pronunciation guide: Theriot (TAIR’-ee-oh), Bowman, (BOH’-min)

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

# # # | Ref. 53319

 

Conscience freedom in healthcare bill urged

The Point

Reproduced with permission

Christian Medical and Dental Association

Excerpted from “Stand with Cathy for conscience rights,” USCCB video, November 17, 2015 – The freedom of conscience is at the heart of who we are as Americans. And federal law has long protected that freedom. But now conscience rights are under attack. And healthcare providers, whose rights have been violated, are speaking up.

Catherina Cenzon-DeCarlo, RN: “On May 24, 2009, the hospital where I work coerced me to assist in a 22-week abortion. My duties as a nurse included being present for the bloody dismemberment and accounting for body parts afterwards.”

Cathy’s employer threatened her job and nursing license if she did not participate in a late-term abortion against her deeply held beliefs.

If Congress does not act, doctors and nurses across the country will be forced to violate their conscience or leave healthcare altogether.

CMDA Senior Vice President and OB/Gyn Gene Rudd, MD: “Stories like that of Ms. Cenzon-DeCarlo may seem too remote, rare and unlikely to affect your world. Think again. CMDA frequently hears similar complaints from our members. In one member survey, four in 10 members reported being pressured to act against their conscience. And one in four suffered consequences for standing their ground.

“So what should we do? Let me suggest two types of actions. First, as citizens, seek to defend our First Amendment rights. CMDA is doing that organizationally on your behalf, but your direct voice to those who represent us in Washington and state capitals is critical.

“Secondly, as followers of Christ, we should stand for what is right. When asked to violate the principles of Scripture and your Spirit-guided conscience, refuse. And we must defend our neighbors who are doing the same.

“This quote from Martin Niemöller, a German pastor during World War II, is a reminder of what is at stake if we ignore the problem:

‘First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.’”

Action

  1. Share your own story of discrimination on CMA’s www.Freedom2Care.org website. Click here to share your views and experience and click here to read what others are saying.
  2. Tell your lawmakers to prevent discrimination in healthcare and support the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act. [Note: it may be possible to include this legislation in an upcoming omnibus appropriations bill.]

Resources Abortion- and conscience-related legislation: CMDA’s Freedom2Care legislative action site CMDA’s Healthcare Right of Conscience Ethics Statement

Click here to comment