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A CRITICAL POINT IN HISTORY FOR MEDICAL CONSCIENCE RIGHTS
By Julie Grimstad
March 15, 2022
 
Medical professionals who refuse to participate in immoral acts often must defend their right to practice medicine in their chosen field and sometimes are unjustly pressured to resign, are fired, or denied employment. Furthermore, hospitals and other healthcare facilities must be free to respect the sanctity of every human life, providing a safe haven for people who want to die a natural death without fear of being pressured to request assisted suicide or euthanasia.  

Canada

Euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal throughout Canada because of the MAID (Medical Assistance in Dying) law. Canadian healthcare providers who object to acts of euthanasia and assisted suicide are being bullied to participate or forced to refer patients to providers who are willing to kill. Last year, Delta Hospice was defunded by the BC Ministry of Health because it steadfastly refused to kill its patients. Defunding is the ultimate government bully’s tactic.

Now, Dying With Dignity has launched a campaign to force religious medical facilities to kill! The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition reports, “The euthanasia lobby wants to stop the transfer of people who have requested euthanasia by forcing denominational medical institutions to do euthanasia.” [1]

The United States

Unlike Canada, assisted suicide and euthanasia have not been legalized throughout the United States. Assisted suicide is legal in ten states (OR, WA, CA, CO, NM, VT, ME, NJ, HI, and MT) as well as in Washington, DC, and a number of states are considering such legislation. [2] The good news is that many states explicitly prohibit assisted suicide and euthanasia.

As in Canada, coercion is part of the healthcare landscape here. New Mexico’s law is particularly concerning. It requires physicians who object to assisted suicide to refer their patients to other providers who are willing to write lethal prescriptions. Referring for assisted suicide is cooperation with evil. Requiring this cooperation is a grave violation of a physician’s conscience.

Coercion is not always so blatant. Writer Andrew Kubick points out, “There are a number of ways that physicians can be softly coerced, to use the words of Justice Rehnquist, for example, pressure from their colleagues, punitive shift scheduling, neglect from future promotions, or dismissal for consideration as co-investigator of future studies or co-author of scholarly papers.” Coercion is also found in the classroom. Kubick poses, “Imagine the effects on health care if future medical students leave their field of study or current providers resign from their practice all to protect their conscience from being violated.” [3]

Members of the Catholic faith, Islam, and Judaism signed a joint paper containing this statement: Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are inherently and consequently morally and religiously wrong and should be forbidden with no exception… No health care provider should be coerced or pressured to either directly or indirectly assist in the deliberate and intentional death of a patient through assisted suicide or any form of euthanasia, especially when it is against the religious beliefs of the provider. [4] HALO wholeheartedly endorses this statement.

So, what is being done to protect the conscience rights of health care providers?

In Canada, “The Protection of Freedom of Conscience Act" (Bill C-230) has been introduced in the House of Commons. Bill C-230 would make it a punishable offense to coerce or force a medical professional to participate in assisted suicide and euthanasia, as well as to fire or refuse to hire a medical professional who refuses to do so. 

In the United States, there are groups working to defend medical conscience rights. For example, the Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) in Washington, DC, through one of its action teams, is pursuing legislation. This team is led by the Center for Religious Freedom Education (CRFE). CRFE, in collaboration with Alliance Defending Freedom and the Christ Medicus Foundation, has launched the Medical Conscience Rights Initiative, seeking to pass laws in each state that protect the free exercise of conscience of our nation’s health care providers. The Initiative has already succeeded in Arkansas and Ohio, which both enacted such laws in 2021. Other states have the opportunity to do so in 2022 and onward. [5]

A Critical Question

Both Canada and the U.S. are at a critical time in history. The question is: Will our health care providers be free to follow their consciences, or will those who refuse to violate their consciences be driven out of the practice of medicine? If the latter, there definitely will be a devastating shortage of physicians and other health care providers and no one to protect the critically ill seeking providers they can trust never to kill them.
 
[1] “Canada’s euthanasia lobby demands that religious medical facilities kill,” March 8, 2022 (alexschadenberg.blogspot.com)
[2] Halo-Newsletter-Vol-3-Issue-Winter-22-4-page.pdf (halovoice.org)
[3], [4], [5] “An ‘Oath Unviolated’: Realizing the Joy of Medicine Through the Free Exercise of Conscience,” Andrew S. Kubick, PhD, MA, March 7, 2022, https://christmedicus.org/an-oath-unviolated/
 
5 Critical Actions YOU Can Take to Defend Medical Conscience Rights 
 
  • Get involved with local groups who are fighting to protect conscience rights.
  • Reach out to your state government officials and let them know how important this issue is.
  • Speak to your personal physician about what is happening in your state.
  • Educate neighbors, friends and family.
  • And, most importantly, pray that medical conscience rights are strengthened and enforced!

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MISSION STATEMENT

The Healthcare Advocacy and Leadership Organization (HALO) is a voice for the medically vulnerable. As a non-profit, Christian organization, HALO addresses a wide array of ethical issues including euthanasia, assisted suicide, rationing of medical services, and hastening of death in healthcare settings. In addition, HALO promotes life-affirming healthcare practices, life-protective advance directives, and compassionate care for the sick and those nearing the end of their lives. In all circumstances, HALO espouses in healthcare practice the sanctity and integrity of every human person.

HALO accomplishes its mission through intercessory prayer; widespread education; community awareness and assistance programs; interaction with patients, families, and caregivers; and referrals to appropriate resources when necessary.

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