July 15th 2016
Congratulations to Rosie Cooper MP for exposing this disgraceful decision of the Belgian courts to fine a care home which refused to kill a patient. Encourage your MP to sign.
RIGHT TO REFUSE TO ADMINISTER EUTHANASIA
- Date tabled:07.2016
- Primary sponsor:Cooper, Rosie
That this House notes with serious concern the recent news that a nursing home in Belgium has been fined 6,700 euros for refusing to euthanise a resident in its care; further notes the court’s ruling that the rest home did not have the right to refuse euthanasia on the grounds of conscientious objection; warns that the case has serious implications for independent care homes across Belgium who oppose euthanasia; recognises that across the continent, non-state providers opposed to euthanasia account for much of the care given to the elderly in the not-for-profit sector; and calls on the Belgian government to uphold the right of conscientious objection of care homes who work tirelessly to provide compassionate care for the elderly and vulnerable.
US House of Representatives Passes Pro-Life Conscience Protection
The Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues (PNCI) is a worldwide initiative to advance respect and dignity for life through law and policy.
By Marie Smith
The US House of Representatives voted to protect the rights of all health care entities who refuse to participate in abortion. The “Conscience Protection Act“, co-sponsored by Reps. Diane Black and John Fleming, passed by a vote of 245 to 182 and seeks to ensure that federal, state and local governments that receive federal health care funding do not punish health providers, including health insurers, for refusing to participate in or provide coverage for abortions. Three pro-life Democrats voted for the bill–Reps. Dan Lipinski, Collin Peterson and Henry Cuellar with pro-abortion Republican Richard Hanna voting against it.
The legislation is in response to flagrant violations of federal law, known as the Weldon Amendment which protects pro-life conscience rights, by the Obama administration. Specifically, the decision by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to let stand a mandate by the California Department of Managed Health Care to discriminate against health plans that exclude abortion–including those plans used by Catholic dioceses–and require that all health care insurance plans include elective abortion incensed Members of Congress.
The California decision ignored the conscience rights of health care insurers to not include elective abortion in their plans and of individuals and organizations by forcing them to choose to either violate their own conscience by contributing to a health plan that subsidizes abortion on demand or forgo health care coverage. New York followed California’s action and also mandated that all plans that previously excluded abortion must now cover abortion, including those used by Catholics churches and other faith-based entities who oppose the destructive act of abortion.
The Conscience Protection Act seeks to protect the rights of ‘health care providers’ which is defined broadly and includes physicians or other health professionals, hospitals, health systems, HMOs, social services providers, health care training programs, insurance issuers, insurance plans, or sponsors or administrators of health plans. The legislation will provide victims of these mandates a right of action to address the discrimination in court but does not prevent health providers from participating in abortion and does nothing to block access to abortion.
Individuals in the health profession who have faced discrimination for acting on their pro-life convictions were also motivators for the bill. These included Cathy DeCarlo who was forced by Mt. Sinai Hospital to assist in a dismemberment abortion; nine nurses at Nassau University Medical Center were suspended for refusing to take part in an abortion; two women applying for nurse residency programs at Vanderbilt who were told they would have to agree to participate in abortion to be accepted into the program; and a decision in 2011 by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey to require nurses to undergo training to facilitate abortions or risk losing their jobs.
Republican pro-life Members of Congress had argued with HHS two weeks ago that its decision in regards to California was a violation of the Weldon Amendment, first enacted in 2005, which states that no HHS funds “may be made available to a federal agency or program, or to a state or local government, if such an agency, program, or government subjects any institutional or individual health care entity to discrimination on the basis that the health care entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer to abortions.” HHS refused to honor the Weldon Amendment.
Former Congressman Dave Weldon, a medical doctor, returned to Washington outraged at the violations of the law he authored by the Obama administration and explained the legislative history and intent of his amendment:
“Recognizing that the abortion lobby’s relentless campaign knows no limits, wedrafted the amendment to cover a wide universe of entities. Nurses, doctors, hospitals, even health plans themselves are covered entities under my amendment.
“We never limited the protection to those with religious, moral or conscience objections. In fact, in my experience as a physician the majority of health professionals who claim to support Roe v Wade always say to me that they would never want to be affiliated with doing an abortion. They too would be protected if the administration would do their duty to enforce the law.
“I authored this amendment to protect FREEDOM for people to provide health care free from abortion and FREEDOM for people to access health care and coverage free from the scourge of abortion.”
Co-sponsor of the Conscience Protection Act, Rep. Diane Black, a nurse by profession, delivered strong remarks about the urgent need to protect conscience rights:
“Congress must step in to clarify and strengthen our laws so that the conscience rights of every American are protected – because… if we lose the right to live according to our own convictions, particularly on a matter as deeply affecting as abortion, we don’t have much left – do we?
“After all, it was Thomas Jefferson who reminded us that “No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority.”
A number of Members recalled the words of President Obama who in a speech at Notre Dame in 2009 said, “Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion” but whose office issued a statement threatening to veto the bill if it reaches his desk. It includes the following:
“This bill would unduly limit women’s health care choices by allowing a broadly-defined set of health providers (including secular sponsors of employer-based health coverage) to decline to provide abortion coverage based on any objections. The legislation would also permanently authorize alternative methods of enforcing these provisions that would inevitably lead to confusion.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan took to the floor to voice his passionate support for pro-life conscience protection and for religious freedom. His statement included:
“… I think we can all agree, that in this country, no one should be forced to perform an abortion. I know we disagree about when life begins. I know we disagree about what government should do about it. And however strongly I hold my beliefs, I know my friends on the other side feel just as strongly. I respect those disagreements.
“But whoever you are–whatever you believe–I think this is one thing we can all agree on: No one should be forced to violate their conscience–least of all by the federal government. That’s all this bill says. The federal government–or anyone who receives taxpayer dollars–cannot discriminate against health care providers who do not perform abortions. And if they do discriminate, this bill says the victims will have two avenues of relief: Either, file a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services. Or, file a civil suit in court. That’s all this bill does.”
“There is nothing more fulfilling than to live out our faith. We want all people–of all faiths–to live freely in our country. But we can live out our faith only if our government respects our faith. And that’s why we need to pass this bill.”
A number of Members who are also physicians spoke in support of the bill including co-sponsor Rep. John Fleming who said,
“Passage of the Conscience Protection Act, H.R. 4828 and S.304, was a victory for pro-life doctors and nurses, and affirms the decisions of hospitals, insurance providers and plans that decline to facilitate or participate in abortion. Even more than that, my bill today provides a strong protection for the medical profession: the federal government must respect your choice not to participate in the destruction of human life. Physicians should never be threatened with the loss of a job or their license for choosing not to dismember, poison, or destroy human life.”
Co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, Rep. Chris Smith, issued a statement after the vote stating in part,
“In an unconscionable abuse of power, for almost two years the state of California has forced all insurance plans under its purview–and the people and institutions that pay the premiums–to subsidize abortion on demand.
“The House vote today is about protecting those who have been ordered to violate their deeply held convictions and pay for, or participate in, abortion–the killing of unborn children by hideous dismemberment procedures, toxic compounds or chemical poisoning.”
Pro-abortion Members refused to discuss the ‘right to choose’ of health care professionals while erroneously insisting that the bill “uses the premise of religion to allow further discrimination against women” and was “really aimed at denying healthcare”.
Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, praised the U.S. House of Representatives today for passing the Conscience Protection Act:
“Given our own Supreme Court case against the HHS mandate, we at Priests for Life understand very well the dangers that freedom of conscience faces in our nation today. It is crucial that pro-life legislation like the Conscience Protection Act be made permanent law. No one should be forced to participate in abortion for any reason, nor should any entity be coerced into providing health insurance that covers abortion. I’m confident the Senate will also see the wisdom of this bill.”
The legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Available online here.
Early Day Motions
Early Day Motion 44, on Down’s syndrome and the Don’t Screen Us Out campaign, has been tabled by Nigel Evans MP. It currently has fifteen signatories. Its text reads:
That this House joins people with Down’s syndrome, their families and advocacy groups supporting the Don’t Screen Us Out campaign in being deeply concerned that the UK National Screening Committee has proposed that cell-free DNA (cfDNA) testing be introduced into the UK’s Fetal Anomaly Screening Programme (FASP); acknowledges that these proposals are projected to lead to 25 fewer miscarriages, but are also projected to result in 92 more children with Down’s syndrome being terminated each year, given that 90 per cent of babies identified with Down’s syndrome are terminated annually, having a profound and discriminatory effect on the community of people with Down’s syndrome; notes that this violates the UK’s treaty obligations to the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD); considers that the current lack of non-directional medial support and balanced information for parents whose child is diagnosed with foetal disability constitutes a failure to implement article 23, section 3 of the CRPD which calls for early and comprehensive support for children with Down’s and their families; calls on the Government to delay implementation of cfDNA screening until reforms are introduced that adequately deliver this support; and urges that a formal inquiry be undertaken to ensure the FASP is fully compliant with the CRPD and other relevant disability rights standards.
Early Day Motion 123, on the policy imposed on the Royal College of Midwives by their chief executive, Cathy Warwick, to be in favour of the ‘decriminalisation’ of abortion (which would mean the introduction of abortion on demand, for any reason, and up to birth), has been tabled by Robert Flello MP. As Parliament is in recess, it currently only has one signature. Its text reads:
That this House is shocked by comments made by Cathy Warwick, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), in the Daily Telegraph on 20 May 2016, in which she dogmatically states that abortion is part of the role of a midwife; notes with concern that Cathy Warwick announced at a conference organised by abortion provider British Pregnancy Advisory Service, for whom she is also Chair of Trustees, that she seeks to educate midwives who are too focused on women having babies rather than terminations and gave details on how to get around the Abortion Act 1967; recalls that, without consultation with members or the RCM board, Cathy Warwick has put the name of the RCM to a radical campaign to remove all legal restrictions on abortion, which would permit abortion to birth for any reason; further notes that UK polling in 2012 showed that only two per cent of women wanted the abortion time limit to be extended to more than 24 weeks, let alone birth; recognises that 40,000 people have signed a petition and over 900 midwives have signed an open letter to the RCM, to voice their overwhelming disappointment and anger at the RCM; and calls for the immediate resignation of Cathy Warwick in the interests of the reputation of the RCM.
http://dontscreenusout.org/public-concern-mounts-new-downs-syndrome-screening-proposals/Listen: Thought For The Day
How to back the Don’t Screen Us Out Campaign…go to this link:
Prime Minister Questioned: May 6th 2016:
Q7. The Department of Health is looking to introduce a cell-free DNA test for pregnant women in order to reduce the number of miscarriages, but this will have the unintended consequence of increasing the number of abortions for those with Down’s syndrome. I know that nobody in this House cares more about the protection and safety of those with special needs, so will the Prime Minister meet me and representatives of the East Lancashire Down’s Syndrome Support Group so that we can look at ways of protecting those with Down’s syndrome and ensuring that they will not be simply screened out? 
My hon. Friend raises a very important issue. A local group of Down’s syndrome parents came to my constituency surgery on Friday and made all these arguments to me. As a constituency MP, I am taking this up with the Department of Health to make sure that all the right processes are followed. There are moral and ethical issues that need to be considered in these cases, but on the other hand we also have to respect the view that women want to have screening and testing about the health of their children, and we should be in favour of maximum transparency, on the basis that this is optional rather than mandatory, but it is part of routine care. So the Health Secretary is going to have to find a way through this, but, above all, we must make sure we go about it in the right way.
- Dominic Lawson, who has a daughter with Down’s syndrome, has come out strongly against the introduction of cf DNA screening in his column in the Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-3580118/Would-world-better-place-without-people-like-daughter-DOMINIC-LAWSON-likens-new-test-s-Syndrome-State-sponsored-eugenics.html Lawson joins growing concern over the new test including the Prime Minster last week admitting that there are ‘moral and ethical issues that need to be considered’ with the new test – departing from the DOH’s position up until now, which has maintained that no assesment of the impact on the community of people with Down’s syndrome is necessary.
DOWN SYNDROME ADVOCATES LAUNCH ‘DON’T SCREEN US OUT’ CAMPAIGN URGING GOVERNMENT TO HALT NEW SCREENING PROPOSAL
The number of babies with Down Syndrome aborted is set to to increase following a decision released this morning.
UK Down’s syndrome advocates have today launched the new campaign, Don’t Screen Us Out, after the National Screening Council (UKNSC) released its decision today to recommend the implementation of a non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) technique called ‘cell-free DNA’ (cfDNA), which may lead to a profound reduction in the number of children born with Down’s syndrome.
Spokeswoman for the Don’t Screen Us Out campaign, Lynn Murray said:
“While the screening itself is being heralded as a move to reduce the number of miscarriages associated with invasive amniocentesis, the UKNSC have glossed over the fact that their pilot study predicts cfDNA screening will detect 102 more babies with Down’s syndrome every year. Latest figures tell us that 90% of babies who are prenatally diagnosed with Down’s syndrome are aborted. If we are to apply this percentage to these newly detected babies, this would mean an increase of 92 abortions for babies with Down’s syndrome annually and an overall decline of reported Down’s syndrome live births by 13%. Such an outcome is likely to have a profoundly negative impact on the Down’s syndrome community”.
The Don’t Screen Us Out campaign calls on the government to halt the implementation of cfDNA screening and to introduce reforms which would support those with Down’s syndrome and their families.
The release of the decision coincides with the recent release of a UN report from the International Bioethics Committee (IBC) of the United Nations Educational, Social, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) issuing a stern warning about the drive to adopt NIPT in national screening programmes, “the potential ethical disadvantages of NIPT can be summarised as routinisation and institutionalisation of the choice of not giving birth to an ill or disabled child”.
The Governmental enabling of such an approach, also violates the UK’s treaty obligations to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to make sure that its health policies – including antenatal screening – are informed by and reflective of a ‘social model’ understanding of disability. As indeed does the haphazard medical support for parents whose child is diagnosed with fetal disability, which leads to pressure on parents to abort their babies with disabilities such as trisomy 21 and causes the conditions that drive the low proportion of Down’s syndrome births. This constitutes a failure to implement section 23, subsection 3 of the CRPD for early and comprehensive support to families with children who have Down syndrome.
Mrs. Murray explains: “Greater support is necessary for parents who are expecting a child with Down’s syndrome. For example, there is a lack of clarity in communicating the diagnosis or prognosis of fetal disability, and the presumption from many medical professionals that parents would opt for abortion. This is worsened by the fact that there is also limited information and support for the option of raising a baby with Down’s syndrome“.
The cfDNA test should not be implemented into the UK Fetal Anomaly Screening Programme at this stage. Given the state of the medical system as it currently exists, cfDNA may only worsen the culture of informally eugenic anti-disabled discrimination that exists in our screening programme health services.
Don’t Screen Us Out are urging members of the public to visit www.dontscreenusout.org and to use the site to contact their MP urging them to write to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, asking that the government halts the introduction of second-line cfDNA screening.
Lynn Murray, Spokeswoman, Phone: (0044) 1313340133, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Don’t Screen Us Out campaign, see our website www.dontscreenusout.org.