Doctor denounces conscientious objection bans for heath workers

09 Apr 2009

By The Record

Says women will lose  as obstetrics suffers ideology-driven restrictions.                                       


Lawyer Harold Cassidy speaks during a rally at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana, on April 5. Hundreds protested on the campus against the school’s invitation to US President Barack Obama to speak there in May.


ST JOHN’S, Newfoundland ( – A doctor is stating that rescinding the right to conscientious objection from health care professionals will hamper the progressive initiative of the obstetrics field and the choice of women.
Dr Robert Walley, executive director of MaterCare International, a Newfoundland-based organisation of Catholic health professionals, affirmed this in a statement released today.
On behalf of his organisation, encompassing the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland, he expressed “deep concern regarding measures to rescind protection of the human right of doctors, especially specialist obstetricians and gynecologists to practise their professions in accordance with their consciences and best judgments as to the best interest of all their patients.”
During the last 40 years, he pointed out, “developments in fetal assessment technologies” has led to a “new sub-specialty of fetal maternal medicine and the ability to diagnose and treat the unborn child as the second patient from the time of conception.” “At the same time,” the doctor noted, “legislation was introduced throughout the world such that abortion would become the basis on which maternal health care is provided which has resulted in a profound change in the primary focus of obstetrical practice.”
Thus, he observed, “the humanity and value of the unborn has been significantly reduced.” Walley continued: “Conscientious objection has long been a tenet of civilised societies and it is now proposed that this right be denied by the rescinding protection of doctors.
“By interfering in the freedom to practice according to conscience, the principles of autonomy of the physician and the rights of mothers will be removed.
“This proposed legislation is an attack on an inalienable right. To force doctors to perform procedures they believe to be unethical, immoral and clearly harmful to mother and unborn child and to threaten their right to practice if they should refuse, is a form of totalitarianism and to amounts to discrimination and persecution.”
He predicted the practice of obstetrics in the US “will suffer as there will be a sameness of practice which will stifle further thought and progress in maternal health care.”
“It is accepted by all governments, professions and religious faiths,” Walley pointed out, “that it is unethical for doctors to cooperate with capital punishment by giving the lethal injection, or to use their surgical skills for judicial amputations.”
“The so called freedom to choose that one group of women has supposedly gained through the introduction of abortion will now be lost by all women as a consequence of their inability to consult an obstetrician whose practice is based on respect for life and on hope from its very beginning.
“It will be bought at the expense of a once noble profession.”

Sixteen out of 25 US Catholic senators vote down conscience provisions protecting Catholics in abortion provision

WASHINGTON, DC ( – The United States Senate rejected an amendment from a pro-life senator last Thursday that would have provided conscience protection on abortion for doctors and medical centres.
The amendment comes at a time when President Barak Obama is considering overturning further protections.
Sen Tom Coburn sponsored an amendment to the Senate budget bill that would protect the right of conscience for health care workers. His budget amendment was to “protect the freedom of conscience for patients and the right of health care providers to serve patients without violating their moral and religious convictions.”
However, the Senate rejected the conscience amendment on a 56-41 vote with most of the chamber’s Democrats voting against it along with a handful of pro-abortion Republicans.
Three Democrats joined most of the Senate Republicans in voting for the Coburn amendment.
Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for National Right to Life, talked with about the vote afterwards. He says the pro-life community needs to be prepared for even bigger battles in the Senate.
“This Senate vote has no direct legal effect, but it is one more signal that the coming Democratic ‘health care reform’ bill will be loaded with provisions that assault basic pro-life principles, so the pro-life movement better be prepared for a big fight,” he explained.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life women’s group, told before the vote that the amendment was worthy of support.
“This amendment is crucial in our fight to protect doctors and nurses around the country from being discriminated against for refusing to participate in abortions and other medical procedures that violate their conscience,” she said. The amendment comes at a time when Obama is considering rescinding the Provider Conscience Clause that further protects the rights of health workers.
President Bush put the provision into place to provide more enforcement for the three federal laws that make it so medical professionals and facilities are not required to do abortions.
However, President Obama has proposed overturning those conscience protections and will likely do so after a 30-day public comment window expires on April 9. She said she already knew of cases where Catholics had been fired for refusal to participate in providing abortions.