Trump Administration Strengthens ‘Conscience Rule’ for Health Care Workers

Trump Administration Strengthens ‘Conscience Rule’ for Health Care Workers
A shift in the balance between the rights of patient and provider, with religion in the middle.

By Margot Sanger-Katz
May 2, 2019

President Trump on Thursday announced an expanded “conscience rule” to protect health care workers who oppose abortion, sterilization, assisted suicide and other medical procedures on religious or moral grounds.

The rule establishes guidelines for punishing health care institutions with the loss of federal funds if they fail to respect the rights of such workers.


The Trump Administration Will Allow Health Workers To Refuse Abortion And Sex Reassignment Services

The Trump Administration Will Allow Health Workers To Refuse Abortion And Sex Reassignment Services
The rule will protect discrimination based on “conscience” or “religious beliefs,” but opponents argue it will greatly limit access to care.

Ema O'Connor BuzzFeed News Reporter
Dominic Holden BuzzFeed News Reporter
Posted on May 2, 2019

The Trump administration released a final rule Thursday that will allow health workers to refuse to perform or assist medical procedures — like abortion, assisted suicide, or sex reassignment surgery — if it violates their “conscience” or religion.

The rule, which will take effect in 60 days, applies to health care institutions receiving federal funding. It repeals an Obama-era discrimination protection rule that President Donald Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services said “proved inadequate.” The new rule specifically protects “providers, individuals, and other health care entities from having to provide, participate in, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for, services such as abortion, sterilization, or assisted suicide.”


Abortion in Italy, a Right Wronged

Abortion in Italy, a Right Wronged

NOV. 13, 2017

Late last month, Cosimo Borraccino, a left-wing member of the regional council for Apulia, in southern Italy, proposed passing a local law to require the enforcement of national legislation granting women access to abortion. His opponents on the council, mostly from center-right parties, said the bill was unnecessary and that Mr. Borraccino was “slamming into a wall of self-evidence.”

Yet when it comes to reproductive rights in Italy, respect of the law is anything but self-evident. In fact, 9 out of 10 gynecologists in Apulia refuse to perform abortions, even though the right to obtain one has been legal since 1978. Nationwide statistics are only slightly less staggering: Seven out of 10 gynecologists in Italy won’t terminate a pregnancy.

Continued at source:

Australia: Rural women face ‘alarming’ abortion service gaps, study finds

Rural women face 'alarming' abortion service gaps, study finds

By Charlotte King
October 02, 2017

A study into rural doctors' attitudes towards abortion in Victoria has revealed alarming gaps in services for women with unplanned pregnancies.

Researchers from Melbourne University found almost 40 per cent of general practitioner doctors (GPs) in Victoria's west objected to facilitating abortion — more than double the national rate.

Continued at source:

Polish Government limits access to emergency contraception

Polish Government limits access to emergency contraception
May 26, 2017

On May 25th the Polish Government voted in favour of limiting access to emergency contraception violating women’s reproductive rights few months after the “Black Protest”.

The draft proposal was put forward by the ruling Law and Justice party and accepted for further works in February this year. Besides issues focusing on patient’s access to medicines it also aimed to make all contraception, including emergency contraception, available only on prescription from doctor.

242 Members of Parliament voted in favour of this ruling, including all representatives from the Law and Justice party who have a majority in the Parliament, 188 against and 9 abstained from voting. 21 did not attend the session.

Continued at source: Astra:

Polish parliament votes to limit access to morning after pill

Polish parliament votes to limit access to morning after pill

The country has some of Europe’s most restrictive abortion regulations.

By Wojciech Kość
May 25, 2017

WARSAW — Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party pushed a controversial bill through the lower house of parliament, or Sejm, late Thursday that includes a provision to limit access to emergency contraception, such as the EllaOne pill.

The measure has been met with outrage from women’s rights organizations and the opposition.

The bill will now move on to the upper house, the Senate, after which PiS-friendly President Andrzej Duda is expected to give it a final sign-off. The procedural calendar suggests the draft law would take effect in August.

Continued at source: Politico:

Provider obstruction: a major threat to critical maternal health services in Northern Ghana

Provider obstruction: a major threat to critical maternal health services in Northern Ghana
17 April 2017
Source: Mathias Aboba

A study has revealed that access to critical maternal health care service in the three regions of Northern Ghana; Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions is impeded with clinicians refusing to provide some legally prescribed services due to their moral or religious beliefs.

The research known as the Conscientious Objection to Legal Abortion Care was undertaken by reproductive health advocacy network, Global Doctors for Choice-Ghana (GDC, Ghana).

Continued at source: Ghana Web:

Australia: This Woman’s Doctor Refused Her Abortion Because She Was “Meant To Be A Mother”

This Woman’s Doctor Refused Her Abortion Because She Was “Meant To Be A Mother”
"His response horrified me."

Posted on April 09, 2017, 04:06 GMT
Gina Rushton
BuzzFeed News Reporter, Australia

Adelaide financial advisor Tamsyn*, 46, fell pregnant while using the contraceptive pill at age 31 and living in Queensland, where abortion remains in the criminal code.

The procedure is only lawful in Queensland if performed so as to “prevent serious danger to the woman’s physical or mental health” but around 14,000 terminations take place there every year involving women who meet the criteria or have doctors who are willing to say they do.

"I knew immediately that I couldn't have a baby, I needed an abortion," Tamsyn told BuzzFeed News.

Continued at source: Buzzfeed:

Can faith and freedom co-exist? When faith-based health providers and women’s needs clash

Can faith and freedom co-exist? When faith-based health providers and women's needs clash

by Jon O'Brien
Editor: Caroline Sweetman
Gender & Development Volume 25 Issue 1 Fundamentalisms
28 Mar 2017
DOI: 10.1080/13552074.2017.1286808
Publisher: Oxfam GB, Routledge

Faith-based health providers are a major component of health services delivery in many developing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. They receive millions of dollars annually from unilateral and bilateral aid agencies to deliver care. At the same time, they often use conservative interpretations of religious teachings to deny access to essential health care, including reproductive health care and HIV/AIDS prevention services. How can we balance the presence of faith-based providers against the rights and needs of women and other vulnerable populations to receive the care they need?

Continued at source: Oxfam:

Sweden: Where conscientious objection to abortion is not recognised in law

Sweden: Where conscientious objection to abortion is not recognised in law
March 17, 2017
by Safe Abortion

In Sweden, conscientious objection is not recognised in law. A Swedish midwife who refused to participate in abortions or prescribe contraceptives, which are part of the job description for midwives, was turned down for jobs in three clinics in the region of Joenkoeping in 2014.

Her case was tried by Sweden’s discrimination ombudsman and appealed to the district court. Both ruled against her claims of discrimination in 2015. The district court ordered her to pay the authorities’ legal costs. She then appealed to the Labour Court. Her anti-abortion lawyers argue on human rights grounds that her freedom of religion and freedom of conscience have been breached, and that she has been discriminated against.

Her legal team call themselves Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers. Her legal and financial backing, however, comes from a group called Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian US anti-abortion group, well-known in the USA, that declared net assets of $4.9m on its US tax return in 2015.

The president of the Swedish Association of Midwives. Mia Ahlberg, says it is important that ADF’s role in this case is becoming known in Sweden. In January 2017, when the case opened in the Labour Court, she told Radio Sweden: “I have been discussing this a lot and people think that ‘well, she is just alone, it is just one midwife fighting, it is like the small one against the big one’. But this is not the case. This is a global, very strong, well-funded organisation that is trying to get their message though in different countries in different ways. And it is very, very important that this gets out, so you know what is behind it, so you know who you are fighting against,” she said.

Indeed, this group’s anti-abortion tactics in the USA are being repeated in Sweden – to tie up the courts with suits that are not supported in national law, for the publicity and the nuisance value, and to tie up and wear down the pro-choice movement in opposing them. Thus, it is less well-known that in 2015, another Swedish midwife also sued her health authority after she was denied employment when she said she would not carry out abortions. She too was represented by the same lawyers as the midwife in the current case, and she too was supported by ADF.

This case is said to be an important piece of the ADF’s anti-abortion lobbying activity in Europe, as their aim is to influence European abortion law. They say they are prepared to go all the way up to the European Court of Human Rights. One can only hope that the Swedish courts will soon deny them the right of appeal, to stop this dragging on.

The arguments for her case

Using human rights language, the midwife’s lawyers have argued that the European Union and Europe’s main human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, call for “freedom of conscience for healthcare professionals” concerning abortions. And that Sweden’s neighbours, Norway and Denmark, have specific clauses allowing this in their healthcare systems. Abortions are only “a very limited part of the work” of a Swedish midwife, the lawyers claim. It seems her unwillingness to provide contraception is being left out of their arguments, however, at least in the media reports.

Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is part of Swedish law, has also been cited by her lawyers, as requiring states to safeguard “freedom of thought, conscience and religion”. However, this Convention also allows for restrictions on this right, in certain cases, including “for the protection of health” of other citizens.

Moreover, the only two reasons why conscientious objection exists in the laws of many countries as regards abortion is because a) abortion is considered “controversial”, a label the anti-abortion movement works hard to promote and maintain, and b) because abortion is in the criminal law and therefore has a different status. No other form of health care provision includes the right of conscientious objection.

The anti-abortion movement’s addition of the right to object to providing contraception, which in most countries is neither controversial nor covered by the criminal law, has failed to gain any legal traction, even in the USA – where they then changed their tactic to trying to remove contraception from the list of services covered by government-funded health insurance.

The arguments against her case

Sweden’s policy on abortion follows the principle that “the needs of the patient always come first”, Mia Ahlberg explained to the BBC. The key point is that the midwife has a choice – she can always choose another profession – but in many cases a woman having an abortion could not choose to become pregnant. She argues that the case is about women’s rights, women’s human rights and women’s access to good, safe healthcare.

What about the freedom of conscience argument? If the midwife were to win, she said, it could have a big impact on Swedish healthcare: “For example, a nurse who is a Jehovah’s Witness might refuse to perform a blood transfusion.” Swedish midwives’ training includes abortion procedures and after-care. “It’s part of our professional competence – so the employer has a right to say ‘you cannot work here’… Swedish midwives today do abortions quite independently in some units.” Although Sweden does not have enough midwives, she says, that is not a reason to make an exception for one midwife, stressing that women’s rights and the integrity of midwifery are at stake and must be defended.

In effect, what she is saying is that the anti-abortion argument is always the same argument, dressed in different clothing. It not only puts the fetus first but also puts the objecting midwife first. It is just another way of saying that the woman and her needs and rights do not come first and do not take precedence over every other competing claim.

SOURCES: BBC News, 26 January 2017 ; Radio Sweden, 24 January 2017 ; LOGO


Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion: