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.

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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.

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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

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