Ireland – Catholic hospitals set to ban abortion

Catholic hospitals set to ban abortion
Terminations will be refused under bishops’ ethics code

Ellen Coyne, Senior Ireland Reporter
July 25 2018

Catholic hospitals could break the law and refuse to offer abortions in all circumstances, a “code of ethics” drafted by the Irish Catholic Bishops suggests. Guidelines for up to 20 main hospitals connected with religious orders include a ban on most assisted reproduction procedures. The few allowed are not to be given to unmarried women or LGBT couples.

The Code of Ethical Standards for Healthcare, which sets out what can be expected from Catholic healthcare services, bans contraception; gender reassignment surgery for transgender people, crisis pregnancy counselling with information on abortion and counselling for families going through a fatal foetal abnormality diagnosis that lists termination as an option.

Continued: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/catholic-hospitals-set-to-ban-abortion-v9zwkd2qk

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Irish Bishops issue Catholic hospital guidelines that don’t allow abortion

Irish Bishops issue Catholic hospital guidelines that don't allow abortion

BY Seán Fahey
July 25, 2018

The Irish Catholic Bishops’ council are making movements to stop abortions from being carried out in Catholic-operated hospitals across the country.

The guidelines would be in direct contradiction of incoming laws that will legalise abortion in the state after May's historic vote.

The Code of Ethical Standards for Healthcare, which has been published by the religious group, and currently available in Veritas stores, also forbids gender reassignment surgeries.

Continued: https://www.buzz.ie/news/irish-bishops-catholic-hospital-abortion-293530

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How ‘conscientious objectors’ threaten women’s newly-won abortion rights in Latin America

How ‘conscientious objectors’ threaten women’s newly-won abortion rights in Latin America
From Uruguay to Chile, medical staff are refusing to provide abortion services even after their legalisation.

Diana Cariboni
18 July 2018

Women’s rights to legal abortion have increased in Latin America – but so have campaigns and policies for medical staff to be able to ‘conscientiously object’ and refuse to participate in these procedures.

“We didn’t see it coming,” said feminist activist Lilián Abracinskas in Uruguay, a secular country where abortion, same-sex marriage and the marijuana market were each legalised in the last decade.

Continued: https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/diana-cariboni/conscientious-objectors-threaten-abortion-rights-latin-america

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Why the fight for legal abortion is only half the battle

Why the fight for legal abortion is only half the battle

July 13, 2018
By Shannon Kowalski and Susan Wood

For years, Irish women have been forced to travel abroad or seek underground abortion services. But, a historic vote in May delivered a landslide rebuke that rescinded the country’s constitutional provision recognizing the equal rights to life of both a woman and a fetus, opening the door to expanded reproductive autonomy. The euphoria over this victory has barely settled, and already steps are being taken to curb Irish women’s hard-won right. The new front of resistance to women’s rights emerges from those who seek to allow medical professionals to deny women abortion services based on their own religious or moral beliefs. It would be a mistake for Ireland’s legislators to allow such refusals, which ultimately endanger and discriminate against women.

Since 2000, 28 countries have liberalized their abortion laws. In response to this progress, anti-choice advocates and policy makers have mounted a deliberate campaign to undermine women’s access to legal abortion services. A primary tactic has been establishing laws and policies that allow doctors to opt out of fulfilling their professional obligation to provide health care services on the basis of their personal beliefs. The use of these so-called “conscience” claims is on the rise worldwide.

Continued: http://www.euronews.com/2018/07/13/why-the-fight-for-legal-abortion-is-only-half-the-battle-view

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Expert group denounces the refusal to treat under ‘conscientious objection’

Expert group denounces the refusal to treat under 'conscientious objection'

Joyce Arthur
July 5, 2018

For the first time ever, an expert group has arrived at a majority consensus that the practice of so-called "conscientious objection" by health-care professionals should not be allowed. The experts agreed that the practice of refusing to provide legal and essential health care due to a doctor's personal or religious beliefs is a violation of medical ethics and of patients' right to health care. Abortion and other reproductive health care are the most commonly refused services.

Unconscionable: When Providers Deny Abortion Care is the title of the expert group's just-released report with recommendations. It is a product of the first global meeting on the topic of "conscientious objection," which took place in Montevideo, Uruguay in August 2017 because the refusal to treat is a major barrier to abortion access in many Latin American countries.

Continued: http://rabble.ca/columnists/2018/07/expert-group-denounces-refusal-treat-under-conscientious-objection

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South Africa – ‘Conscientious objection’: when doctors’ beliefs are a barrier to abortion

'Conscientious objection': when doctors' beliefs are a barrier to abortion
As a report highlights the ruinous impact of denying abortion, two medics offer opposing views on the role of personal belief

Hannah Summers
Fri 22 Jun 2018

A rise in the number of healthcare providers who refuse to provide abortion services based on their personal beliefs is having a devastating impact on women and girls around the world, a new study has claimed.

Over the past two decades, at least 30 countries – including, most recently, Ireland, Chile and Argentina – have taken steps to improve access to abortion through legislative changes.

Continued: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/jun/22/should-doctors-be-free-to-refuse-patients-an-abortion-on-personal-grounds

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USA – How The Administration’s Proposed ‘Conscience’ Rule Undermines Reproductive Health and Patient Care

How The Administration’s Proposed ‘Conscience’ Rule Undermines Reproductive Health and Patient Care

Adam Sonfield,Guttmacher Institute
First published on Health Affairs Blog: March 21, 2018

On January 19, the Trump administration proposed new regulations to interpret and enforce more than 20 federal statutory provisions related to “conscience and religious freedom.” Collectively, as interpreted by the administration, these statutes would grant broad powers to individuals and organizations in the health care field and beyond to refuse to provide or be involved with services, information, and referrals to which they have religious or moral objections. That includes services related to abortion, contraception, end-of-life care, global health care assistance, vaccination, and much more. The proposed regulations and steps to enforce them have real potential to undermine existing legal and ethical protections for patients’ access to sexual and reproductive health information and services, and other critical care.

Continued: https://www.guttmacher.org/article/2018/03/how-administrations-proposed-conscience-rule-undermines-reproductive-health-and

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The Discussion on Conscientious Objection

The Discussion on Conscientious Objection

Posted on August 10, 2017 by Nomtika

All roads led to Uruguay last week, between July 31st and August 4th, as 5 SRJC members took to Montevideo for the International Convention on Conscientious Objection.

The meeting, co-hosted by Mujer y Salud en Uruguay (MYSU) and the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC), featured policymakers, academics, health professionals, legal experts, and feminist activists who collectively established that objecting to the provision of voluntary abortion services on religious or moral grounds, is a chief barrier to safe abortion and endangers the lives of women.

Continued at source: Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition: http://srjc.org.za/2017/08/10/the-discussion-on-conscientious-objection/

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There is no defense for ‘conscientious objection’ in reproductive health care

There is no defense for ‘conscientious objection’ in reproductive health care

by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
Aug 8, 2017

by Christian Fiala, Joyce H Arthur  

European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology

Abstract

“A widespread assumption has taken hold in the field of medicine that we must allow health care professionals the right to refuse treatment under the guise of ‘conscientious objection’ (CO), in particular for women seeking abortions. At the same time, it is widely recognized that the refusal to treat creates harm and barriers for patients receiving reproductive health care. In response, many recommendations have been put forward as solutions to limit those harms. Further, some researchers make a distinction between true CO and ‘obstructionist CO’, based on the motivations or actions of various objectors.

This paper argues that ‘CO’ in reproductive health care should not be considered a right, but an unethical refusal to treat. Supporters of CO have no real defence of their stance, other than the mistaken assumption that CO in reproductive health care is the same as CO in the military, when the two have nothing in common (for example, objecting doctors are rarely disciplined, while the patient pays the price). Refusals to treat are based on non-verifiable personal beliefs, usually religious beliefs, but introducing religion into medicine undermines best practices that depend on scientific evidence and medical ethics. CO therefore represents an abandonment of professional obligations to patients. Countries should strive to reduce the number of objectors in reproductive health care as much as possible until CO can feasibly be prohibited. Several Scandinavian countries already have a successful ban on CO.”

The main text of the paper opens by saying: “Remarkably, pro-choice researchers and ethicists who support CO in reproductive health care rarely try to defend the practice beyond a simple assertion that individual conscience is an important right. Certainly this is true for everybody in general, but in the field of reproductive health care, there has been little or no recognition of how CO unjustly privileges doctors’ conscience over patients’ conscience, not to mention their life and health[1]. The granting of CO also gives legitimacy to the religiously-based assumption that abortion is wrong − however, providing safe abortion is an ethical practice that has saved the lives and protected the rights of millions of women. Moreover, doctors have obligations to their patients and the public. They occupy a privileged position of trust and responsibility in our society, and profit from a monopoly on the practice of medicine.”

An important argument they put forward is that the “largely religious and non-verifiable basis of CO makes the laws and policies that try to limit its exercise impossible to enforce”. Later, they continue: “Anyone can cite CO and lie or exaggerate. Or be sincere. Who knows? The only way we can judge is in rare evidence-based situations, such as when doctors in Italy and Poland are caught exercising ‘CO’ in public hospitals while doing abortions for profit in private clinics.”

But the crucial question they pose is: Is it possible to protect providers’ claimed right to refuse to treat patients and patients’ right to health care at the same time? Their answer is: the more objectors there are, the less possible it is to protect patients’ right to health care. So they argue that “as a first step towards mitigating the harms of CO, countries could at least require all publicly-funded hospitals to provide abortions, as Portugal has done”. Finally, they call for countries “to steadily reduce the number of objectors and eventually abolish CO, not save it.”

Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion: http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/there-is-no-defense-for-conscientious-objection-in-reproductive-health-care/

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SWEDEN- The case of the anti-abortion Swedish midwives – again

SWEDEN- The case of the anti-abortion Swedish midwives – again

by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
August 8, 2017

On 17 March, 19 April and 31 May, we published three reports from Sweden on the cases of two midwives who sought to keep their jobs in spite of declaring conscientious objection to abortion, which is not recognised under Swedish law, and refusing to provide abortion services, which were a part of their job descriptions. The most recent report said they were considering taking a case to the European Court of Human Rights, as they had failed to win their case in the Swedish courts. It would appear they have done so.

However, on 18 July, we received an e-mail from someone in Sweden which explained that the case the two midwives took to the European Court was not an appeal against the Swedish courts’ rulings, but a new case. The writer said:

“The verdict against Ellinor Grimmark that came out of Sweden’s Labour Court in April cannot be appealed. The other midwife with the same story, Linda Steen, who also sued her county and was ruled against, appealed to the Labour Court, which declined to hear the case. So these cases are, in point of fact, concluded.

“However, the two midwives have sued Sweden before the European Court of Human Rights. This is not an appeal of the verdicts in their respective labour disputes, but a separate suit alleging human rights violations by the Swedish government.

“It should be noted that Sweden has a shortage of midwives. Due to this shortage, many counties offer nurses a salaried position while they go through a tax-funded training programme to become midwives, on the condition that they then work for that county for a certain time after qualifying.

“Grimmark took one of these positions in Jönköping county. She only alerted the county of her refusal to perform certain tasks within a midwife’s job description shortly before completing her training. The county did not sue her for breach of contract, but simply informed her that she was disqualified from employment as a midwife. Steen did the exact same thing, in Södermanland county.

“There are rumours that these two were specifically recruited to carry out this legal assault on Swedish women’s abortion rights, but these are unconfirmed. What is clear is that both these women entered into contracts to receive large sums of taxpayer money, then broke their contracts after receiving the money and launched frivolous lawsuits to further a religious agenda. When the verdicts came down and they were forced to pay the counties’ legal fees, these were covered by funds raised, in part, by the ADF [Alliance Defending Freedom, USA anti-abortion group].”

On 8 June, the ADF published a statement that Ellinor Grimmark’s case to the European Court is that she had to seek work in another country because she refused to participate in abortions. On 16 June, the so-called Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers reported: “On 14 June two Swedish midwives together with the Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers filed a complaint against Sweden to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg for violations of the right to freedom of conscience and freedom of expression under the European Convention on Human Rights.” The arguments they put forward are that the women were denied the right to work within their profession, and that most countries in the Council of Europe permit conscientious objection.

SOURCE: E-mail, 18 July 2017. The writer did not give permission to publish his name.

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Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion: http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/sweden-the-case-of-the-anti-abortion-swedish-midwives-again/

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