Protection of Conscience Project
Protection of Conscience Project
Service, not Servitude

Service, not Servitude

Resisting Ethical Aggression


Medical conscience for me, but not for thee
Wesley J. Smith | The New York Times has published an opinion column by cardiologist Sandeep Jauhar that decries the Trump administration's increased enforcement of medical conscience. But he actually promotes a one-way conscience right that favors protecting the predominate ideological views of the medical intelligentsia, while forcing dissenters to sacrifice their own religious and moral beliefs. . . continue reading


The abortion law is about coercion and manipulation
Dr. Noreen O'Carroll  |  I was very struck by the phrase “the abuse of conscience” used by Pope Francis in his apology for the abuse perpetrated on minors by members of the clergy and hierarchy; he apologised not only for sexual abuse and the abuse of power but also for the abuse of conscience (Letter to the People of God, August 20, 2018). The Catholic Church is not the only institution that has failed to protect people from the abuse of conscience. The Oireachtas has questions to answer in this regard too . . . continue reading


A watchdog in need of a leash
Ontario College of Physicians manipulates consultation process
Sean Murphy |  . . .a working group at the College of Physicians and Surgeons released a draft policy . . .for a second stage of consultation. . .  The most contentious element in POHR is a requirement that physicians who object to a procedure for reasons of conscience must help the patient find a colleague who will provide it.  The consultation process is intended to provide the public and members of the profession an opportunity to comment on policies being developed by the College . . . Remarkably, it appears that the College is attempting to manipulate the current consultation process by intervening in the Discussion Forum in order to discredit critics and defend its draft policy. . . continue reading
Regulator's proposal to remove pharmacists' conscience rights is unethical, unnecessary and quite possibly illegal
Peter Saunders | Should pharmacists be forced to dispense drugs for what they consider to be unethical practices – like emergency contraception, gender reassignment, abortion and assisted suicide?  Or should they have the right to exercise freedom of conscience by either referring to a colleague or opting out? The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), the independent British regulator for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy premises, is proposing to replace the current 'right to refer' with a 'duty to dispense'. . . continue reading


Entrenching a 'duty to do wrong' in medicine
Canadian government funds project to suppress freedom of conscience and religion
Sean Murphy |A 25 year old woman who went to an Ottawa walk-in clinic for a birth control prescription was told that the physician offered only Natural Family Planning and did not prescribe or refer for contraceptives or related services. She was given a letter explaining that his practice reflected his "medical judgment" and "professional ethical concerns and religious values." She obtained her prescription at another clinic about two minutes away and posted the physician's letter on Facebook. The resulting crusade against the physician and two like-minded colleagues spilled into mainstream media and earned a blog posting by Professor Carolyn McLeod on Impact Ethics. . . continue reading


 "Take two aspirin and call me after the election"
Responding to Charo RA. Warning: Contraceptive Drugs May Cause Political Headaches
Perspective, N Engl J Med. 2012 Mar 14
Sean Murphy | "Take two aspirin and call me after the election" is the kind of advice one would expect from former members of President Obama's transition and HHS review teams in response to protests about the HHS birth control mandate, so the closing words of Professor R. Alta Charo in her NEJM Perspective column are not unexpected. . . continue reading


Plan C for Conscience
Cristina Alarcon | I was thrilled to learn that Washington State will be creating new rules for pharmacists who have conscientious objections to providing services or products they find morally objectionable. The new regulations would give plaintiffs in a Washington lawsuit -- the owners of Ralph's Thriftway pharmacy and two pharmacists -- the right to refuse to stock or dispense Plan B "morning after pill" based on their belief that life is sacred from the moment of conception. . . continue reading
'We insist: leave your conscience at the door'
Cristina Alarcon | I recently wrote an article expressing my delight that Washington State pharmacists will no longer be forced to dispense products or provide services they find morally objectionable. . . . My happiness at the Washington victory was . . . squelched by the plethora of intolerant, and in some cases highly dogmatic, statements posted by fellow pharmacists. . .continue reading
Conscience Clauses: Responding to a divided ethic in health care
Wesley J. Smith | This is the last 18 minutes of a lecture given in Seattle, Washington.  Beginning with his observation that assisted suicide is legal in Washington State, he explains the consequences of this for pharmacists, and goes on to discuss the need for protection of conscience laws. The title of this part of the lecture has been supplied by the Project.Video
Telephone installation, lethal injection and conscientious objection in pharmacy
Responding to Archer F. "Religious Conscience Should not Outweigh Professional Obligations to Patients." National Post (Holy Post BLOG),18 July, 2010.
Sean Murphy* | . . .Mr. Archer's comparison of pharmacy services to telephone service is also unsatisfactory because it presumes that all pharmacy services are morally equivalent to telephone service; that, for example, no moral or ethical questions are raised by the assertion that pharmacists are obliged to provide abortifacients and embryocides, and may eventually be required to provide drugs for suicide, euthanasia and executions.. . . continue reading


Professionals or automatons?
Cristina Alarcon | Should pharmacists have the right to act according to their consciences, or are they prescription-filling robots? . . . A Canadian pharmacist and bioethicist, Cristina Alarcon, explains what is at stake in her profession. . . continue reading
The Hijacking of Moral Conscience from Pharmacy Practice: A Canadian Perspective
Cristina Alarcon | . . .While Canadian pharmacy regulatory boards consider themselves to be world leaders in promoting professionalism and pharmaceutical care in pharmacy practice, most have failed to properly discharge their duty of care to pharmacists who seek to live a holistic private and professional life that is, for them, ethically coherent and unified. . . continue reading
Even Many Doctors Want to Force Colleagues to Violate Hippocratic Oath
Wesley J. Smith | . . .forcing a doctor refer a patient to a provider that he or she knows will do the abortion or assist the suicide is to force the referring doctor to be complicit in those acts. Thus, while there certainly should be cooperation in transferring records from the original doctor to a replacement if a patient decides to go that route, no dissenting physicians should not be required ethically to participate directly or indirectly in acts that explicitly violate the Hippocratic Oath. . .continue reading
Forced Speech: Pushing Against Conscientious Objection
by Medical Practitioners to Abortion in California
Wesley J. Smith | I have been reporting that doctors and other medical professionals who wish to hold to an orthodox Hippocratic view of medical professionalism are going to increasingly be forced by law to either be complicit in these actions or become podiatrists. The most blunt method of destroying Hippocratic medicine in this manner is the new Victoria, Australia law requiring doctors to either perform an abortion upon request, or find another doctor for the patient who will. . . continue reading
Pro-choicers deny doctors right to choose life
Susan Martinuk | Abortion on demand may soon take on a whole new meaning in Alberta. The Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons has rewritten its guidelines covering the standard of care that doctors must provide. . . continue reading
Conscientious Objection: Resisting Ethical Aggression in Medicine
Responding to Cantor JD. Conscientious Objection Gone Awry - Restoring Selfless Professionalism in Medicine. N Eng J Med 360;15, 9 April, 2009
Sean Murphy | Judging from the title of her article, Professor Julie D. Cantor believes that "selfless professionalism" in medicine is being destroyed by health care workers who will not do what they believe to be wrong. She also implies that Americans have access to health care only because health care workers are compelled to provide services that they find morally repugnant . . .Such anxiety is inconsistent with the fact that religious believers and organizations have been providing health care in the United States for generations. . . . continue reading


Re:Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code (August, 2008)
Responses and Submissions to the College of Physicians and Surgeons

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario is the regulatory and licensing authority for physicians and surgeons practising in Ontario, Canada. In February, 2008, the Ontario Human Rights Commission recommended that the exercise of freedom of conscience by physicians be restricted. The College then drafted a policy that demanded that Ontario physicians sacrifice their freedom of conscience to avoid prosecution by Ontario's human rights apparatus.  See Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Respect for conscience must be a social value
Margaret Somerville| An effort is also underway by pro-abortion advocates. . . to have the United Nations declare access to abortion a universal human right. Healthcare professionals who, despite such coercion, follow their conscience risk a variety of legal threats. . . .[T]his state of affairs has caused deep concern for many healthcare professionals. What has led to this situation and what might be its wider consequences? To respond to that question and deal with this situation, I believe we need to understand two new realities, a political reality and a medical reality. . .continue reading


Re:The Limits of Conscientious Refusal in Reproductive Medicine
ACOG Committee on Ethics Opinion No. 385: November, 2007
In October, 2005, a letter from the President of the ACOG to US Senators included a request that conscientious objectors to abortion be forced by law to facilitate the procedure by referral. Perhaps recognizing that the letter had failed to make an ethical case for mandatory referral, the ACOG Committee on Ethics released an opinion that purported to do so. The opinion, in conjunction with a bulletin from the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG), poses a significant threat to freedom of conscience for American physicians specializing in obstetrics and gynaecology. See The Limits of Conscientious Refusal in Reproductive Medicine
Healthcare without Conscience - Unconscionable!
Gene Rudd | The governor of Illinois has told pharmacists to check their conscience at the door. They are not to allow their personal convictions to alter their professional activities. Specifically, pharmacies are to fill all legal prescriptions, even if doing so is contrary to deeply held moral or religious beliefs of the pharmacists. . . continue reading


Re: "Abortion: Ensuring Access"
Canadian Medical Association Journal (July, 2006)

In July, 2006, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published a guest editorial by Sanda Rodgers of the Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, and Jocelyn Downie, of the Health Law Institute, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia. The editorial appears to have been an attempt to bully objecting physicians who refuse to refer patients for abortion by menacing assertions about legal and ethical obligations. See Abortion: Ensuring Access.


The Silence of Good People and Non-cooperation with Evil
Responding to: Charo RA. The Celestial Fire of Conscience - Refusing to Deliver Medical Care
N Eng J Med 352:24, June 16, 2005
Sean Murphy | It is especially noteworthy that, in an essay about the exercise of freedom of conscience by health care workers, Professor R. Alta Charo has virtually nothing to say about freedom or conscience. "Conscience clauses," yes: conscientious objection, to be sure: and she mentions acts of conscience and the right of conscience. But nothing about freedom, and, on the subject of conscience itself, the most she can muster is, "Conscience is a tricky business." . . . continue reading
BLOG on the Reading Down of Conscience Protection
Responding to:Charo RA. The Celestial Fire of Conscience - Refusing to Deliver Medical Care
N Eng J Med 352:2471-2473; 24, June 16, 2005
Iain T. Benson | . . . This is the standard line from those who wish to frustrate the proper accommodation of conscience and religion. Resist accommodation by insisting on "one standard" and "non-discriminatory access" to the "service" sought. It is our old friend "convergence pluralism" again - - this time in medical ethics. . . "one size fits all" is the latest attempt to force the views of some on everyone and that is, itself, discriminatory, totalitarian and unethical itself. . .continue reading
Silencing the Conscience of Medical Professionals
Responding to: Charo RA. The Celestial Fire of Conscience - Refusing to Deliver Medical Care
N Eng J Med 352:24, June 16, 2005
John Mallon | . . . Professor R. Alta Charo. . . thinks . . . that the law should require health care professionals to violate their consciences in certain cases . . .What is truly breathtaking here is that she is willing to use the very words of Gandhi and King (and elsewhere, C.S. Lewis) to argue against precisely what they were fighting for: a just society in which one does not have to suffer punishment for following one's conscience. . .continue reading
Postscript for the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada:
Morgentaler vs. Professors Cook and Dickens
Responding to Cook RJ, Dickens BM, "In Response". J.Obstet Gyanecol Can 2004; 26(2)112;  Cook RJ, Dickens BM, Access to emergency contraception [letter] J.Obstet Gynaecol Can 2004; 26(8):706.
Sean Murphy | . . . the arguments of Professors Cook and Dickens for mandatory referral are unsupported and even contradicted by their own legal and ethical references. Regulatory officials with the power to enforce the views of Cook and Dickens are unlikely to discover this in the pages of the Journal, since, by editorial fiat, the discussion was terminated with the publication of their 'final word' on the subject. Here, then, is the postscript to the discussion, supplemented by developments in the United Kingdom and Belgium that have a bearing on the issue. . .continue reading


Address to College Council and Pharmacists AGM, College of Pharmacists of B.C.
Ann Nadalini | . . .I will not be forced to dispense gravol injection, zopiclone, or ECP's, if I feel it is not in the best interest of my client. To do so would be to try to separate my intellect from my ethics. To do that would create a corrupt personality, which is untrue to my client and myself. . . continue reading
Service or Servitude: Reflections on Freedom of Conscience for Health Care Workers
Responding to Cantor J, Baum K., The Limits of Conscientious Objection - May Pharmacists Refuse to Fill Prescriptions for Emergency Contraception?
N Eng J Med 351;19, November 4, 2004
Sean Murphy | . . .As the exercise of freedom of speech does not force others to agree with the speaker, the exercise of freedom of conscience does not force others to agree with an objector. Concerns about access to legal services or products can be addressed by dialogue, prudent planning, and the exercise of tolerance, imagination and political will. A proportionate investment in freedom of conscience for health care workers is surely not an unreasonable expectation. . .continue reading


Address to College Council and Pharmacists AGM, College of Pharmacists of B.C.
Cristina Alarcon | . . .Since the inauguration of the new Code of Ethics in 1997, it has been insinuated that pharmacists are incapable of treating a client with due sensitivity and respect, while at the same time having the courage, integrity, and uprightness to act according to one's own convictions. . .continue reading


Standing up for your beliefs
Cristina Alarcon | . . . For the past 3 years I have been challenging our Pharmacy Licensing Body's Code of Ethics, which basically asks pharmacists to violate their conscience, to violate their deeply held belief that life is valuable from the moment of conception. . .continue reading


Conscientious Objectors: Canaries in the Ethical Mineshaft
Maria Bizecki | . . .Freedom of conscience is an inalienable human right owed to everyone. Protection of conscience laws resist the development of a two-tier system of civil rights within health care professions, one tier being those who prescribe to a universal, unchangeable ethic, and the other tier being those who live by a relativistic, changing "majority opinion" ethic. . .continue reading
Customer Isn't Always Right on Issues of Conscience
Susan Martinuk | . . . let's not kid ourselves in saying that conscience issues are limited to the abortion debate. How we legislate matters of conscience now could ultimately (and intentionally) pave the road to drone-like response to customer-driven requests for chemicals and technologies that are highly controversial, deadly and/or have more to do with scientific and social experimentation than legitimate health care. . .continue reading


In Defence of the New Heretics: A Response to Frank Archer
Responding to Archer F. Emergency Contraceptives and Professional Ethics.
Canadian Pharmaceutical Journal, May 2000, Vol. 133, No. 4, p. 22-26
Sean Murphy | Before taking action that they may later regret, those who would coerce or discriminate against conscientious objectors, or drive them from the practice of pharmacy, would do well to revisit Frank Archer's critical review . . . Although many pharmacists have accepted the review as a definitive ethical statement, it is insufficient warrant for repression of freedom of conscience within the profession. . . continue reading