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website are not a substitute for legal advice provided by a qualified
professional. Commentaries are grouped by national jurisdiction.
LAWS AND REGULATIONS
Arizona Court of Appeals
upholds state protection of conscience law
- Planned Parenthood Arizona sought to have a statute restricting abortion quashed as
unconstitutional. It obtained a preliminary injunction and the case was appealed. The Court of
Appeals ruled that the statute was constitutional. Since Planned Parenthood had challenged the protection of conscience
provisions of the statute, the Court also dealt with freedom of conscience
for health care workers. It ruled that "a woman's right to an abortion or to
contraception does not compel a private person or entity to facilitate
either," and "whatever right a woman may have to 'chart her own medical
course,' it cannot compel a health-care provider to provide her chosen
Extract of judgement
Hawaii legalizes assisted suicide
Refusing to refer for suicide may incur legal liability
- Sean Murphy*
| . . .beginning next year, Hawaiian physicians who refuse to
facilitate assisted suicide by referring patients to a willing colleague
may face discipline — including expulsion from the medical profession —
or other legal liabilities. Hawaii could become one of only two
jurisdictions in the world where willingness to refer patients for
suicide is a condition for practising medicine. . .
Re: Illinois "emergency" regulation struck down
- Cristina Alarcon*
| . . Clearly, the state's concept of "emergency" was
fabricated in order to justify the imposition of a moral ideology on
unwilling citizens. . .
Illinois controversy about legislative overreach
Catholic bishops withdraw opposition, others remain opposed
Confrontation centres on complicity
- Sean Murphy*
| Among American states, Illinois has the most comprehensive protection of
conscience legislation, the
Health Care Right of Conscience Act (HCRCA). . . Now it appears that the HRCA may
be changed by Senate Bill 1564. Critics say the bill tramples upon physician
freedom of conscience, 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
Indiana assisted suicide bill fails to protect objecting practitioners
New version of bill affirms assisted suicide is "medical care"
- Sean Murphy* | . . . participation in assisted suicide is described in HB1020 as the provision of "medical care," including prescribing or dispensing lethal medication and being present at a patient's suicide. . . in the long term, statutory affirmation that assisted suicide is not only permitted but is a form of "medical care" would likely have serious adverse consequences for objecting Indiana physicians.
- US Conference of Catholic Bishops | . . .The proposed
bill and other conscience protections recognize a basic principle: no
one, least of all a health care provider committed to healing, should be
forced to violate his or her conscience by participating in procedures
that he or she deems to be harmful or morally wrong. Out of respect for
religious freedom, concern for the ethical integrity of the medical
profession, and appreciation for the diversity of our health system and
our society, all should agree to help prevent such coercion. . . .
Maine, assisted suicide, and freedom of conscience
Accommodation of objecting physicians convoluted and unsatisfactory
- Sean Murphy* | The provisions of Maine's Death with Dignity Act relevant to the accommodation of freedom of conscience and religion are so convoluted and unsatisfactory that one wonders if Maine legislators actually intended to enact what they have written.
- Testimony of Michael J. ODea | . . . It is the gift
of freedom that my family and I have enjoyed; and the protection of
that freedom for my children and our nation's children that brings me
here to testify in support of this most important Health Care Right of
Conscience legislation. My testimony will pay particular attention to
the right of conscience for those who finance health care . . .
- Testimony of Clyde R. Meckel, MD |
Thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of LB564- the Health Care Freedom of Conscience Act. The purpose of this bill is to respect and protect the fundamental right of conscience of licensed individuals who provide health care. This is a critical matter of protecting one of our most fundamental liberties.
- Testimony of Anna R. Franzonello | . . .I have thoroughly reviewed LB 564, which provides protection-and an adequate enforcement mechanism-for healthcare providers' freedom of conscience. I am testifying in this proceeding as an expert in constitutional law and as an expert on laws respecting the freedom of conscience. I appreciate this opportunity to testify as to the constitutionality of LB 564 and the necessity of protecting the freedom of conscience of healthcare providers.
New Jersey assisted suicide law and freedom of conscience
Lack of clarity on referral is unsatisfactory
- Sean Murphy* | The lack of clarity in and conflict in the law about referral are most unsatisfactory because referral is a particularly contentious subject, and forcing referral upon unwilling physicians is a violation of freedom of conscience.
- Testimiony of Karen Brauer | House Bill 68
addresses the need for protecting a pharmacist's right to choose
to dispense only those drugs which promote life and health of a
patient. There is a long medical tradition admonishing the health
care professional to do no harm. This tradition codified most
clearly in the Hippocratic Oath has unfortunately been set aside
by many. Others of us wish to adhere to a practice of preserving
and promoting human life. . .
- Testimony of Robert Garbe | I support H.B.
68, sponsored by Representative Keith Faber, because I will most
likely lose my job if I follow my conscience and not fill a
prescription that will kill a baby. There is an unwritten rule
that if I do not satisfy the customer's legal requests I will
place my employment in serious jeopardy.
Re: Oregon Initiative Petition 40
Risks Eyed in Drive for
- Catholic Sentinel | . . . "Protecting the conscience rights of physicians and
health care providers is essential to any proposed constitutional amendment
that seeks to establish access to health care as a 'fundamental right,'"
says a statement from the guild's president, Dr. Lynne Bissonnette. "The
conscience rights of physicians and health care providers cannot be deferred
for later inclusion in statutory legislation." . . .
- Carrie Severino*
| My organization, the Judicial Education Project, in
conjunction with two leading Jewish Orthodox Groups, Agudath
Israel of America and the National Council of Young Israel,
has filed an
amicus curiae brief in a Becket Fund case, Stormans
Inc. v. Mary Selecky, et al. . . . Stormans challenges the constitutionality of
Washington State's Board of Pharmacy regulations that
require pharmacists and pharmacies to dispense emergency
contraceptives. Unfortunately, this regulatory burden
falls-due to secular regulatory exemptions and the Board's
selective regulatory enforcement-exclusively on
religious objections to emergency contraception, while passing over
similarly situated non-religious objectors. . .
Statement of Wisconsin Catholic Conference
- . . . The constitutional right to
religious freedom embraces more than just the right
to hold private beliefs and affirm personal values.
Such freedom also includes the ability to bear
public witness to our values . . . Nowhere
does the Constitution say that the right of
conscience is protected except in matters related to
human reproduction. Nor does it limit the scope of
religious freedom to tenets that conform to a party
platform or to the agenda of powerful interest
groups. . .
Their choice vs. that other choice
- Rick Esenberg | . . . Opponents of laws like the Conscience Protection Act
suggest that if a health care professional has a moral objection to such
things, she should leave the profession. She can exercise her choice but
only at the price of her livelihood. Cold comfort that. In the world
of the American Civil Liberties Union, virtually every type of
discrimination would be prohibited except that practiced against those with
the "wrong" religious and moral views. . .
The nation's most comprehensive medical conscience rights legislation
- Susan Armacost |. . .The underlying principle embodied in AB 207 is
that health care professionals, medical students, health care facilities
and medical schools should not be forced to participate in activities
that involve the deliberate destruction of human life. . .
Pro-Life Wisconsin Talking Points
SB 155 would protect the right of pharmacists to
conscientiously refuse to engage in practices that violate the sanctity
of human life.
The Pharmacists' Conscience Clause Bill would
extend that conscience protection to pharmacists who refuse to
participate in chemical abortion and euthanasia. Outside of the
hospital setting, pharmacists enjoy no clear protection. SB 155 seeks to
fill this conspicuously unjust hole in Wisconsin law.
Testimony of Mary A. Kalver
- . . .In today's world, more and more health care
providers find that some health care practices raise serious moral concerns.
Social, legal, and medical developments involving abortion, assisted
suicide, euthanasia, withdrawal of feeding tubes for the purpose of causing
a person's death by starvation or dehydration, human embryo destruction,
human embryonic stem cell research and tissue transplants from aborted
babies have put health care providers in the center of some of society's
most controversial moral dilemmas. . .
Testimony of John
T. Dunlop, M.D.
- . . .Where medically appropriate
I offer, educate, argue, strongly encourage, but I
will not force my opinion on her. If a patient did
not show the same respect for me, but insist that I
act in violation of my conscience, I would consider
that a grave violation of the covenant of mutual
respect that must exist between us. . .
Testimony of Cynthia Jones-Nosachek, M.D.
- . . . Finally, the protection provided in this bill for
the refusal to refer. This is not abandonment. We will continue to treat the
patient. However, we refuse to treat in a manner that we think is immoral.
Remember that what has been legal is not always moral. If a physician in the
Tuskegee Syphilis study had refused to let his patients be placed into that
study, should he have been forced to do so? . . .
Testimony of Leah Vukmir
- . . . I signed onto this bill to protect health care
professionals from employment discrimination, civil penalties and
potential professional sanctions - health care professionals who
choose to abide by their conscience. . .
Testimony of Marianne Linane, RN
- . . .As the current nursing
shortage continues to grow and with no end in sight,
it would be unwise to drive out any nurse who would
feel forced to give up his or her profession rather
than to compromise conscience on any one of these
issues. They must know that they will be protected
from having to participate in these objectionable
practices. . .
Testimony of Matthew B. Lee, MD
- I would like to thank the committee and
Chairperson Roessler for hearing my testimony to AB
67. My name is Matthew Lee. I am a board-certified
obstetrician-gynecologist in private practice at St.
Joseph Regional Medical Center in Milwaukee,
Wisconsin. I have been there in practice for four
years. I have a clinical appointment at the Medical
College of Wisconsin as a Clinical Associate
Professor. . .
Beth LaChance, RN
- . . . I . . . experienced an onslaught of
disciplinary reprimands, retaliation, criticism and
ostracism. . . I was no longer assigned to train or
mentor new nurses despite my credentials and
qualifications. . . .I was denied career
advancement to clinical nurse three status, as the
research project which qualified me for advancement,
was resigned to another nurse without my prior
knowledge or consent. I was grilled as a "second
class nurse" or "nobody". . .