The Battle for Conscience Rights Rages On

National Catholic Register

Michael Warsaw

In February 2012, EWTN filed the first of its legal challenges against the Obama administration’s so-called “HHS mandate,” which would have forced organizations like EWTN and the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide contraception, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization procedures as part of our employer-sponsored health-care plans. For EWTN, that legal battle went on for nearly seven years — and for the Little Sisters, even longer. At the heart of that fight was whether or not the government could force faith-based organizations to act contrary to their deeply held religious values and in violation of their conscience.

More than nine years later, the issue of conscience rights is again taking center stage in our national discussions as the Biden administration continues to ramp up its promotion of tax-funded abortion and “gender-transition” medical treatments.

Earlier in March, the Senate confirmed Xavier Becerra, a Catholic who dissents openly from the Church’s foundational moral teachings regarding the sanctity of human life and sexuality, as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. As attorney general of California, Becerra infamously filed suit to take away the religious exemptions protecting the Little Sisters of the Poor from the provisions of the HHS mandate. 

The Senate also confirmed Dr. Rachel Levine, a biological man who identifies as a transgender woman, as assistant secretary of the HHS. 

With these two officials at the helm, the HHS is certain to rapidly accelerate the Biden administration’s radical agenda of tax-funded abortion and mandatory gender-reassignment treatments, including for children and teens. . . continue reading

Should religions freedom be diluted into a general freedom of conscience law?

Spain opens the debate

Evangelical Focus

The conversation about a law of freedom of conscience has gained importance in the last months in Spain.

The leading political party in government, PSOE (Social Democrats), is prioritising the start of the discussions in this year 2021, confirmed the Spanish Vice President, Carmen Calvo.

So far, the PSOE has not shared many details of a new law that could replace the Organic Law of Religious Freedom of 1980. But the party of President Pedro Sánchez has expressed the will to recover parts of the proposal outlined in 2010 by the former head of government José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. Back then, the project was discarded in the midst of strong tensions between the government and the Spanish Roman Catholic Church, and the external factor of a visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the country. . .[Full text]

White House silent on conscience concerns in health care

Catholic News Agency

Washington D.C., Mar 2, 2021 / 02:00 pm MT (CNA).- The White House on Tuesday would not reveal its position on doctors being forced to perform abortions and gender-transition surgeries under the Equality Act.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki would not directly answer questions by EWTN News Nightly White House correspondent Owen Jensen on conscience rights in health care, at Tuesday’s White House press briefing.

Jensen brought up the Equality Act, which passed the House last week and which outlaws “pregnancy discrimination” and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The U.S. bishops’ conference (USCCB), as well as pro-life groups, have warned that the legislation would essentially create rights to procedures such as abortion, sterilization, and gender-transition surgery. The bill could also eviscerate conscience protections of health care workers opposed to participating in these procedures, these groups have warned. . . . [Full text]

Resolution against Polish abortion law challenged

European Catholic bishops’ protest includes concern about freedom of conscience

Sean Murphy*

The Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) representing European conference of Catholic bishops across Europe has criticized a European Parliament resolution against Poland’s abortion law passed in November, 2020.  The COMECE letter, addressed to the President of the European Parliament, included an expression of concern about the resolution’s reference to conscientious objection.

COMECE is also alarmed about the fact that the Resolution seems to question the fundamental right to conscientious objection, which is an emanation of freedom of conscience (Article 10.1 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union). This is particularly worrying considering that in the healthcare sector conscientious objectors are in many cases subject to discrimination. In our view, such unjust stigmatization should not be promoted.

It is necessary to consider fundamental rights -like freedom of thought, conscience and religion-in the light of their universality, inviolability, inalienability, indivisibility and interdependence. In regard to the right to conscientious objection, the European Union Charter entails the need to respect national constitutional traditions and the development of national legislation on the issue.

The letter was signed by Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg; Bishop Mariano Crociata of Latina, Italy; Bishop Franz Josef Overbeck of Essen, Germany; Bishop Noel Treanor of Down and Connor, Northern Ireland; and Bishop Jan Vokal of Hradec Králové, Czech Republic.

Atticus Finch Teaches a Lesson in Conscience Rights

“The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule,” he says in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, “is a person’s conscience.”

National Catholic Register

Andrea Piciotti-Bayer

Atticus Finch Teaches a Lesson in Conscience Rights

When my dearest friend asked me to join her virtual book club, I said “Sure!” She’s the kind of friend for whom I’d walk over broken glass — but, moments after I said yes, I thought to myself: “What was I thinking? I’ve got seven school-aged kids still at home, mountains of laundry to do every day, and a full-time job.”

But, because our friendship means so much to me and I am not one to walk away from a “Sure!”, I’ve stayed in the book club. And I’m glad I did.

Thank goodness for audiobooks. I’ve been able to keep up with the “reading” as I walk the family black Labrador puppy. (Again, what was I thinking?) The third book in our list is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I know everybody’s supposed to have read this in high school, but I can’t honestly remember whether I did. For me, Atticus Finch had always been the irresistible Gregory Peck. . . [Full text]