By John Jalsevac

STRASBOURG, France, November 23, 2009 ( – A new draft resolution from the Council of Europe aimed at legally limiting the freedom of medical doctors and health care providers who object to abortion has life and family defenders in Europe deeply concerned. 

The new draft Resolution is the latest initiative undertaken by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to promote abortion and restrict freedom of religion and conscience. The resolution, sponsored by Sweden's Carina Hägg, is entitled “Women's access to lawful medical care: the problem of unregulated use of conscientious objection.”

The resolution has two main objectives: the first – to push for further access to abortion as a “Human Right” – the second: to limit the possibility for individual health care providers and institutions “to refuse to provide certain health services based on religious, moral or philosophical objections.”  The “health services” targeted are mostly abortion, emergency contraception, assisted suicide and artificial procreation.

The document states that, “While recognising the right of an individual to conscientiously object to performing a certain medical procedure, the Parliamentary Assembly is deeply concerned about the increasing and largely unregulated occurrence of this practice, especially in the field of reproductive health care.”

The solution proposed is that member states begin to “provide oversight and monitoring of the practice of conscientious objection so as to ensure women are able to access the medical services they need and are legally entitled to receive.”

However, the document specifically states that the right to “institutional objection” must be removed, ensuring that hospitals as a whole cannot invoke conscientious objection. Member states must “rule out the right of institutional conscientious objection, preventing public hospitals or clinics as a whole to invoke conscientious objection,” says the document.

Such a drastic measure would put an abrupt end to institutions such as Catholic hospitals that refuse to provide abortions and other procedures that violate the sanctity of life.

The European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), an international non-profit law firm dedicated to protecting human rights and religious freedom in Europe and worldwide, will be intervening in the matter to defend conscience rights. At the request of Members of Parliamentary Assemble, the ECLJ is currently preparing a memorandum in support to “conscientious objection” that will be submitted to the Parliament in the weeks ahead.

See the draft resolution attacking freedom of Conscience here.