Move to call abortion and assisted suicide ‘human rights’ is ‘evil’, says Princeton professor

Christian Today

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has been accused of elevating individual freedom above moral considerations after recently including abortion and assisted suicide among the ‘human rights’ that should be protected by states.

The committee’s ‘General Comment’ on the right to life, issued at the end of October, argued for the decriminalisation of abortion and the removal of restrictions that could subject women or girls to ‘physical or mental pain’ if they are unable to terminate their pregnancy. . .

‘States parties should not introduce new barriers and should remove existing barriers that deny effective access by women and girls to safe and legal abortion, including barriers caused as a result of the exercise of conscientious objection by individual medical providers,’ it said. . .

On assisted suicide, the committee stated that where this was legal, ‘robust’ legal safeguards should be in place to protect patients from abuse. . . [Full text]

Does an Illinois bill threaten doctors’ conscience rights? Depends on whom you ask

Catholic News Agency

Matt Hadro

Springfield, Ill., May 29, 2015 / 03:13 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- An Illinois bill that some say threatens the conscience rights of medical providers is currently under consideration in the state’s general assembly.

Catholics and pro-lifers are divided among themselves over the implications of SB 1564 for the conscience rights of medical providers.

While the state’s Catholic Conference is neutral on the bill, the Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom states that it “would force medical facilities and physicians who conscientiously object to involvement in abortions (and other procedures) to refer for, make arrangements for someone else to perform, or arrange referral information that lists willing providers, for abortions.” . . . [Full text]

 

Illinois controversy about legislative overreach

 Catholic bishops withdraw opposition, others remain opposed

Confrontation centres on complicity

Sean Murphy*

 Introduction

Among American states, Illinois has the most comprehensive protection of conscience legislation, the Health Care Right of Conscience Act (HCRCA). In 2009 an attempt was made to nullify the Act with respect to abortion, contraception and related procedures by introducing HB 2354 (Reproductive Health and Access Act), but the bill died in committee two years later.1 Now it appears that the HRCA may be changed by Senate Bill 1564. Critics say the bill tramples upon physician freedom of conscience,2 while the bill’s supporters, like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), claim that the bill is “about making sure no one is withholding information from the patient.”3

SB 1564 was actually drafted by the ACLU,3 but it was introduced by Illinois Senator Daniel Biss. He said that the amendments were partly in response to the case of a woman who was miscarrying over several weeks, but who was refused “diagnosis or options” in the hospital where she had sought treatment.4  Senator Bliss was apparently referring to the story of Mindy Swank, who testified before a Senate legislative panel about her experience.  The Illinois Times reported that she suffered “a dangerous, weeks-long miscarriage” because of the refusal of Catholic hospitals to provide abortions.5

Unfortunately, the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee does not record or transcribe its hearings, and conflicting news reports make it difficult to determine exactly what happened at some critical points in her story.  Moreover, it appears that the Committee did not hear from the hospitals and physicians who were involved with Ms. Swank, so we are left with a one-sided account of what took place.6

Nonetheless, as a first step in considering the particulars of the bill and the controversy it has engendered, it is appropriate to review the evidence offered to support it.  We will begin with Mindy Swank’s testimony, even if some details are lacking, and then examine the experience of Angela Valavanis, a second case put forward by the ACLU to justify SB 1564.7  [Full Text]

In Illinois, Bishops and Pro-Life Groups Differ on ACLU Conscience Bill

National Catholic Register

Peter Jesserer Smith

Both parties don’t like the pro-abortion-rights organization’s bill, but the Illinois Catholic Conference is standing neutral while local pro-life groups campaign against it in the state legislature.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A battle is under way over conscience rights and health care in the Illinois Legislature that has pro-life groups on one side, the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood on the other, and the Illinois Catholic Conference standing neutral on the sidelines.

The ACLU of Illinois has proposed a change to Illinois’ broad legal protections for the conscience rights of health-care workers with S.B. 1564, which has already passed the state senate, but whose defeat the pro-life groups are urging in the state house.

If health-care facilities or personnel decline to provide services for reasons of conscience — such as abortions or sterilizations — the bill’s protocols would require them either to make referrals for such services or to provide information about other places where they are likely to be available. [Full Text]

An Open Letter to the Illinois Legislature

The state should vote down a bill that would trample on citizen conscience rights

National Review

Robert P. George

To the members of the Illinois Legislature:

I understand that you are considering passing SB 1564, a bill to amend the existing laws of Illinois that protect freedom of conscience. I urge you not to do so, as SB 1564 fatally weakens the conscience rights of Illinois citizens.

SB 1564 would amend existing law to, among other things, add a new section regarding “access to care and information protocols.” This section would require “health care facilities, physicians, and health care personnel” who are opposed for reasons of conscience to performing an abortion to, nevertheless, “refer, transfer, or give information . . . about other health care providers who they reasonably believe may offer . . . the . . . service,” which includes abortion. In so providing, SB 1564 violates elementary notions of conscience protection.. . [Full text]

What Is Religious Freedom?

Originally appeared in Public Discourse: Ethics, Law, and the Common Good, the online journal of the Witherspoon Institute of Princeton, NJ

Reproduced with permission

Robert P. George*

In its fullest and most robust sense, religion is the human person’s being in right relation to the divine. All of us have a duty, in conscience, to seek the truth and to honor the freedom of all men and women everywhere to do the same.

When the US Congress passed the International Religious Freedom Act in 1998, it recognized that religious liberty and the freedom of conscience are in the front rank of the essential human rights whose protection, in every country, merits the solicitude of the United States in its foreign policy. Therefore, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, of which I became chair yesterday, was created by the act to monitor the state of these precious rights around the world.

But why is religious freedom so essential? Why does it merit such heightened concern by citizens and policymakers alike? In order to answer those questions, we should begin with a still more basic question. What is religion? [Full text]

Personal Opinions and Ideology, Not “Science”

From Conscience and its Enemies: Confronting the Dogmas of Liberal Secularism

Robert P. George*

On September 11, 2008, the President’s Council on Bioethics heard testimony by Anne Lyerly, MD, chair of ACOG ‘s Committee on Ethics. Dr. Lyerly appeared in connection with the council’s review of her committee ‘s opinion (No. 385) entitled “Limits of Conscientious Refusal in Reproductive Medicine.” That opinion proposes that physicians in the field of women’s health be required as a matter of ethical duty to refer patients for abortions and sometimes even to perform abortions themselves .

I found the ACOG Ethics Committee ‘s opinion shocking and,  indeed, frightening. One problem was its lack of regard – bordering on contempt , really – for the sincere claims of conscience of Catholic, Evangelical Protestant , Orthodox Jewish , and other pro-life physicians and health-care workers. . .[Full text]