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As Ontario’s College of Physicians reaches deadline on conscience rights review, poll reveals huge support for pro-life docs.
Steve Weatherbe

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Most Ontarians support doctors’ right to refuse abortions

Steve Weatherbe
By Steve Weatherbe

The deadline has closed and the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons now has some 1,800 submissions to peruse as it reviews its 2008 policy on the conflict between doctors’ conscience rights and patients’ rights to service.

“We’ve got medical groups and religious groups and women’s groups,” says College media relations officer Prithi Yelaja. The College, she says, has given itself till the first quarter of 2015 to read them all and respond.

But 32,882 have already weighed in on the online poll at the College’s website, and, so far, public opinion is running heavily in favour of doctors’ rights to “refuse to provide a patient with a treatment or procedure because it conflicts with the physician’s religious or moral beliefs.”  Fully 77 percent (25,202) support the doctors, with only 23 percent preferring a patient’s rights to demand any service available from each and every medical provider.

The issue sparked a furore on social media in May, when “Kate D.” complained that she had been refused contraceptives by an Ottawa medical clinic.  “I just hope that the message gets out enough for people to realize that when you’re in a professional position,” she commented, “you have to leave you morals at home.”

Kate D.’s view is being backed at a more academic level by Carolyn McLeod, associate philosophy professor at the University of Western Ontario. She was the principle investigator on a study on the subject commissioned by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and titled  “Let Conscience Be Their Guide? Conscientious Refusals in Reproductive Health Care.”

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The question mark says it all. In a blog post for impactethics.ca, McLeod argues that physicians do not have an “absolute” freedom to turn down patients. “For if it were absolute, then a Muslim physician could refuse to accept female patients, a Catholic physician could deny care to women who have had previous abortions,” she said.

An even more extreme attack on conscience rights came from Joyce Arthur, director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada. In her March paper “Dishonorable Disobedience…Not Conscientious Objection,” Arthur declared that “Healthcare professionals who exercise CO [conscientious objection] are using their position of trust and authority to impose their personal beliefs on patients, who are completely dependent on them for essential healthcare.” 

She recommended simply excluding anyone from the pharmaceutical, nursing or medical professions who is unwilling to prescribe contraceptives and abortifaciants, or perform or abet abortions.

The idea that pharmacists, doctors and nurses should park their religious or moral beliefs at the door of medicine is opposed by other pro-choice groups, however, and by the Supreme Court of Canada.

John Carpay and Carol Crosson of the Calgary-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms argue in their submission to the College that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees for conscience and religion are virtually meaningless if they apply only to what goes on in homes and churches and not the workplace.

Among a string of supportive rulings is Chamberlain vs the Surrey School District 36, in which the Supremes commented, “Should the religiously-informed conscience be placed at a public disadvantage [to the secularly-informed one]? To do this would be to distort liberal principles in an illiberal fashion and would provide only a feeble notion of pluralism.”

“Neither the Charter and the Ontario Human Rights Code recognize any patient’s right to service,” Carpay told LifeSiteNews. “The Charter and Code so protect patients from discrimination based on their race, religion, sexual preference, gender and so on.”

Defenders of doctors’ rights also point out that artificial contraception does not improve or protect woman’s health.

Dana Cody, director of the California-based Life Legal Defence Foundation, notes that “the World Health Organization considers artificial contraception to be a carcinogen. It certainly had a debilitating impact on my health.”

In the U.S., says Cody, both doctors and nurses have the constitutional right to refuse orders from employers to deliver services against their consciences. “But medical and nursing schools are not teaching that these rights exist,” she adds, saying she knows of at least one student nurse who would have been kicked out of nursing school because of her refusal to assist at abortions, had Cody not intervened.

“Employees have to push back” when pushed to do things that violate their consciences, she says.

Life Legal Defence Fund is just one of a host of non-profit law firms established in the last 20 years to defend religious and conscience rights against governments and institutions.

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
The Editors

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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

The Editors
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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben
By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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