Beware the “Fake News” on Conscience Rights

Cutting Through the Abortion Distortion on Protections for Pro-Life Medical Professionals

American Center for Law and Justice

Francis J. Manion

You may have seen this past week headlines from a variety of news outlets loudly proclaiming the death of conscience rights: “Trump’s ‘conscience rule’ for health providers blocked by federal judge.” “Second federal judge strikes down Trump’s ‘conscience protection’ rule for health care providers.” Both the headlines and, for the most part, the stories themselves give the impression that, as usual, the independent federal judiciary has had to come to the rescue of all that is good and true by thwarting the latest attempt by “Trump” and his “religious right” henchpeople to impose their troglodyte, Taliban-esque views on Americans who just want to be treated in hospitals and doctors’ offices without interference from small-minded religious fanatics.

But it’s fake news. The decisions of the U.S. District Courts in New York and Washington addressed a set of administrative regulations – housekeeping stuff – adopted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services earlier this year for how HHS wants to go about interpreting and enforcing pre-existing conscience protection laws. The laws themselves remain untouched and, as the New York court made clear, its decision leaves HHS at liberty to enforce existing conscience laws and to adopt rules governing how they go about doing that. . . [Full text]

US paid to tie down, blindfold, sterilize indigenous Peruvian women. Now they’re suing

LifeSite News

Martin M. Barillas

LIMA, Peru, November 7, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – After more than 20 years, women who were forcibly sterilized will have their day in court as prosecutors in Peru intend to charge a former president and government officials with serious human rights abuses.

Former President Alberto Fujimori of Peru (1990-2000) and other former high-ranking government officials will face a court in December for their involvement in forced sterilizations of women, which caused the death of at least one woman in the Andean republic. Fujimori, 81, promoted his Voluntary Chemical Contraception Program in the 1990s to supposedly level the playing field and provide to poor women contraception that they would not be able to afford without government assistance. Contraception services in Peru were subsidized by U.S. taxpayers through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). . . [Full text]

Whose Rights Come First: Doctors’ or Patients’?

Medscape

Arthur L. Caplan

Hi. I’m Art Caplan. I’m at the Division of Medical Ethics at the NYU School of Medicine. Conscientious objection—everybody seems to be talking about it these days. What are the rights of physicians, pharmacists, nurses, or other healthcare workers to say that something may be legal but they refuse to do it?

This issue has come up particularly as more and more health systems are merging. You see Catholic hospitals merging with secular hospitals. Catholic hospitals have a huge presence in the American world of hospitals and nursing homes, probably accounting for 40% of all facilities. When mergers take place, whose values predominate? . . [Full text]

(Project response: Freedom of conscience in healthcare: “an interesting moral swamp?”)

PDForra seeking conscientious objection rights

The Irish Examiner

Sean O’Riordan

The association representing the country’s frontline Defence Forces has taken a case to the Council of Europe to force the State to recognise the right of soldiers, sailors and aircrew to register as conscientious objectors.

PDForra, which represents 6,500 enlisted personnel, is leading the case on behalf of sister organisations in Denmark, Greece, Cyprus and the Netherlands. The Irish case has been lodged through Euromil, the umbrella body of European military representative associations, and argues that not recognising conscientious objection breaches Human Rights legislation. .. [Full text]

Colorado End-of-Life Options Act

A Clash of Organizational and Individual Conscience

JAMA

Matthew Wynia

Journal of the American Medical Association The 2016 Colorado End-of-Life Options Act includes a provision unique among states with such laws, specifically privileging individual health care professionals, including physicians and pharmacists, to choose whether to write and fill prescriptions for life-ending medications, such as high-dose secobarbital or various combinations of morphine, diazepam, beta-blockers, and digoxin, without regard to the position their employer has taken on the law. This provision virtually guaranteed the Colorado law would eventually be challenged, which happened in August 2019.1 The current legal case directly pits the conscience rights of individual health care professionals against those of religiously affiliated corporations. Because 5 of the top 10 US hospital systems by net revenue are now religiously affiliated,2 and these systems often restrict medical care in a variety of ways,3 how the case is resolved could have far-reaching implications for US health care, extending well beyond the relatively rare use of aid-in-dying medications at the end of life.


Wynia M. Colorado End-of-Life Options Act: A Clash of Organizational and Individual Conscience. JAMA. 2019;322(20):1953-1954. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.16438