Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

NHS appeals decision allowing midwives to conscientiously object to performing abortions

What happens when you let a secular government take over health care provisioning?

Here is a story from the BBC about the state-run health care system in the UK.

Excerpt:

The UK’s highest court will hear legal arguments on whether midwives have a right to refuse to take any part in abortion procedures on moral grounds.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde appealed to the Supreme Court after judges in Scotland said Roman Catholic midwives had a right to conscientious objection.

[…]Five judges in London will hear the case. A ruling is expected next year.

Ms Doogan, from Garrowhill in Glasgow, and Mrs Wood, from Clarkston in East Renfrewshire, were employed as labour ward co-ordinators at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow.

[…]This landmark case tests the balance between those whose religious beliefs do not allow them to play any part whatsoever in abortion, and the health authorities’ duty under the law to enable women to have an abortion. Many Christian groups back the midwives’ position.

The midwives’ counsel, Gerry Moynihan QC, told the court in the women’s earlier successful appeal that the law was clear that the right to conscientious objection contained in the Abortion Act was intended to apply to the whole team whose involvement was necessary to achieve the procedure.

If the Supreme Court upholds the midwives’ earlier successful appeal, it could set a legal precedent, allowing other midwives who object to abortion to take the same stance.

The Royal College of Midwives and the women’s charity British Pregnancy Advisory Service have both warned that any such ruling could have severe implications for the care of women choosing to terminate their pregnancy.

The BPAS is the largest abortion provider in the UK. I blogged before about their leader, Ann Furedi, who supports sex-selection abortions. I thought then that sex-selection abortions was the worst thing about abortion, but now I see that she would actually force her moral views on other people, compelling them by the power of government to act against their beliefs. There is something deep inside me that just recoils from making a person do something that they think is morally wrong. But I guess pro-abortion people don’t share my concern.

When I blogged before about these two midwives when they won their appeal case, I wrote this:

If the health care system were private, then it would be easy for midwives to find another company to work for that did not violate their consciences. But when the government runs the whole health care system, where are you supposed to go? They are a monopoly and they make the rules. Yet another reasons for Christians to vote for smaller government. In a free market, if you don’t want to buy something from one store, you can go to another store. There is competition. But where are these nurses supposed to go? They are midwives, and the government and the courts make the rules in a government-run health care system.

This is why we need to keep the government OUT of health care. When you work for a government monopoly, and they want you to do something that you don’t want to do, you have two choices – do what they want or leave the country. If the only health care system is government-run, then if you want to practice health care, you have to leave. That seems unfair to me.

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How the ADF kept nurses who wouldn’t perform abortions from being fired

In 2011, a story came out about New Jersey nurses being forced to perform abortions (or be fired). I blogged about it, but we didn’t really know the details. Well, now the details have emerged and the case has finally been decided. Here’s a press release from the heroic Alliance Defending Freedom, which protected the nurses involved from violating their consciences.

Excerpt:

Promoted from that team to a supervisory position over all the nurses, the new assistant manager announced that – since she and others had to help with abortions – she saw no reason why every nurse shouldn’t help. Hospital officials agreed, and passed a new, mandatory policy to make it so. The assistant manager quickly set up a training program that would give each nurse on the unit hands-on experience in how to assist with and clean up after abortions.

“As long as you work here,” she told the 12 nurses who openly protested, “you’re going to have to do it. If you don’t, you’re going to be fired or transferred out.”

“We were all shocked,” Fe says. “All these years I’ve been a nurse, I was never told to help kill children.”

But the managers remained adamant. Hospital administrators supported them.

[…]”Our jobs were hanging by a string,” Beryl says. “We were like, ‘All right. If they’re going to fire all 12 of us, fine. But this is against what we believe God wants us to do.’ We didn’t come into this profession to do [abortions]. We told them we weren’t comfortable with it and didn’t feel they should force us. And if that meant our jobs, well… God was going to provide.”

When even their own union declined to help them, Fe wrote a letter to hospital officials saying that she and her coworkers would not participate in abortions. She passed it around for the other nurses; 15 signed it. She gave the letter to her manager, who took it to the director of nursing.. Response was swift. A meeting was called for the next day, with each of the signing nurses, the labor board, a union official, the managers, and “an expert on ethics” scheduled to be on hand.

I think so often in this world today, Christians are on the defensive when it comes to acting on their convictions. My expectation is that we will never win when we do the right thing. The other side is so strong, and we have so few conservative Christians who are intentional about studying well, earning well, and reaching positions of influence. But sometimes we do win, because there are still some Christians left who have paid the price to get the education and training that allows them to do something when the freedoms of Christians are threatened.

This time, it was the Alliance Defending Freedom lawyers who saved the day:

The day of that announcement, Pastor Terry Smith, of Life Christian Church in West Orange, New Jersey, returned from a trip. A staff member told him that one of his parishioners – Fe – had called, shared what was happening at the hospital, and asked for advice. The pastor immediately phoned Len Deo, president of the New Jersey Family Policy Council.

“I’ll be all over this,” said Deo, who hung up and called Alliance Defending Freedom. Shortly afterward, staff attorney Matt Bowman was on the phone with a local allied attorney, Demetrios Stratis, enlisting him to help defend the nurses. The two immediately called Fe.

[…]Amid all the tension, threats, and growing media coverage, the judge in the case stunned everyone by suddenly announcing, in a preliminary hearing, that a settlement had been reached.

“We had gotten everything [the 12 nurses] requested,” Stratis says. “We’d gotten the hospital to agree not to force them to perform these abortions. There would be no retaliatory measures against them, and they could feel free and sleep at night, knowing that the next day they would not have to be trained on the abortion process or help a woman kill an innocent child.”

“I was crying – really crying,” says Lorna, who heard the news from one of the other nurses. “And very thankful. The next day, I went to work, and all of us were hugging and very happy.”

“Before, I used to think that some prayers won’t be answered,” Fe says. “Sometimes, I’d feel very hopeless. But with this case, I saw how the Lord moves… providing the resources, the people who would help us out. It just strengthened my faith. I really thank God for Alliance Defending Freedom.”

Where does this desire to force people to commit murder come from? Well, it comes from the political left. In fact, the Obama administration actively opposes conscience protections for medical workers, and actively opposes conscience protections for military chaplains. This is to say nothing about the HHS mandate, which forces entire organizations and businesses to subsidize abortion-causing drugs.

I think that Christians need to be thoughtful, calculating and realistic about how we are going to deal with threats like this. Although some of us may prefer to study things that are easier, and do jobs that are comfortable, there is a real need for more of us to study hard things and do hard jobs. We need people with the right degrees in the right fields, and we need people who are good at earning and saving money. The truth is that this is the way the world works, and wisdom requires that we do what we have to do (not what we like to do) in order to be ready for the the challenges we are likely to face. The other side is certainly doing their job of getting the degrees and the money that they will use against us.

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Obama rejects conscience protections for military chaplains

From CNS News.

Excerpt:

President Obama issued a statement Wednesday rejecting several provisions of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), including a conscience protection for military chaplains that he called “ill-advised”.

“Section 533 is an unnecessary and ill-advised provision, as the military already appropriately protects the freedom of conscience of chaplains and service members,” he said in his signing statement.

Obama made clear that his administration would remain unmoved by the NDAA’s conscience provision, stating that the Department of Defense would continue to implement the repeal of the military’s ban on homosexual service members.

“My Administration remains fully committed to continuing the successful implementation of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and to protecting the rights of gay and lesbian service members; Section 533 will not alter that.”

The president said that the Secretary of Defense would ensure that no “discriminatory” actions result from Section 533’s conscience protections.

This is not the first time that Obama has trampled on freedom of conscience and religious liberty.

Here’s an article from Life Site News from back in 2011.

Excerpt:

The Obama Administration has rescinded a federal regulation from 2008 that protected the conscience rights of health care providers opposed to providing abortifacient contraception, such as the Plan-B “morning-after” pill.

The Health and Human Services Department under Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, issued the new “final rule,” which leaves health-care workers of federally funded entities a narrower conscience exemption that only protects them from having to participate in abortions or sterilizations.

The new regulation replaces the earlier one enacted in the waning days of the George W. Bush administration, which broadened the interpretation of existing federal conscience statutes related to abortion to include health professionals opposed to emergency contraception, such as Ella or Plan-B, drugs which pro-life advocates say also act as abortifacients.

Sebelius alleged in the promulgation of the new final rule that the Bush-era conscience regulations “instead led to greater confusion”, citing comments received by HHS. She said her department was changing the rule because it was “unclear and potentially over-broad in scope.”

The HHS Secretary said in her statement that her department did share the concern of those in favor of rescinding the rule that it had the “potential to negatively impact patient access to contraception and certain other medical services” esp. for certain sub-populations, such as “low income patients, minorities, the uninsured, patients in rural areas, Medicaid beneficiaries, or other medically under-served populations.”

The ruling is a victory for Planned Parenthood and other “family planning” groups that have insisted that drugs like Plan-B (taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse) and Ella (taken within five-days of intercourse) should be defined as “contraception.” Pro-life groups countered that pro-life health providers should be protected from discrimination under federal statutes, because these drugs could prevent a conceived human embryo from implanting in the mother’s womb, thereby aborting it.

[…]“Today’s erosion of conscience protections for medical professionals is a blow both to medicine and the right to practice one’s deeply-held convictions,” said Dr. J. Scott Ries, on behalf of the 16,000-member Christian Medical Association (CMA).

Ries said the new HHS final rule disregarded the findings of the previous HHS 2008 final rule which stated that allowing health professionals to practice according to their convictions would negatively impact patient services or create “new barriers.”

“Losing conscientious healthcare professionals and faith-based institutions to discrimination and job loss especially imperils the poor and patients in medically underserved areas,” said Ries. “We are already facing critical shortages of primary care physicians, and the Obama administration’s decision now threatens to make the situation far worse for patients across the country who depend on faith-based health care.”

If religious liberty is a concern, then you can’t be a liberal. They don’t support religious liberty.

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NHS horror story: neglected patient calls police for water, dies of thirst

I spotted this UK Daily Mail story on my FB feed from bioethicist Wesley J. Smith.

Excerpt:

A young patient who died of dehydration at a leading teaching hospital phoned police from his bed because he was so thirsty, an inquest heard yesterday.

Officers arrived at Kane Gorny’s bedside, but were told by nurses that he was in a confused state and were sent away.

The keen footballer and runner, 22, died of dehydration a few hours later.

A coroner had such grave concerns about the case that she referred it to police.

Yesterday an inquest was told how Mr Gorny died after blunders and neglect by ‘lazy and careless’ medical staff at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, South London.

His mother Rita Cronin, a civil servant told Westminster Coroner’s Court that staff tutted at her and repeatedly refused to listen to her concerns that her son hadn’t been given vital medication.

At one point he became so desperate and upset that staff sedated and restrained him – and on the night before his death, his mother said, he was not checked on by medical staff, despite being in a room on his own.

[…]When he arrived at hospital for the hip operation, nurses assured the family they would give him his medication and said: ‘Don’t worry, he’s in good hands – we’ll look after him.’

But, despite the repeated reminders and insistence by both Mr Gorny and his family, staff failed to give him the tablets and he became severely dehydrated after being refused water.

In an interview with the Daily Mail in 2010, Miss Cronin said of the nurses who treated him: ‘They were lazy, careless and hadn’t bothered to check his charts and see his medication was essential. He was totally dependent on the nurses to help him and they totally betrayed him.’

Yesterday Miss Cronin told the inquest she received a distressed phone call from her son on May 27, 2009, in which he told her he’d called the police because he was so desperate for a drink.

[…]She then went to the hospital where she found him ‘confused and angry’, shouting at staff and behaving in an uncharacteristically abusive manner.

Despite this, one doctor asked if he was ‘coming off the booze’ and another asked if he was ‘always like this’. Miss Cronin said: ‘He sounded really, really distressed. He said “They won’t give me anything to drink”. ‘He also said “I’ve called the police. You better get here quickly: they’re all standing around the bed getting their stories straight”.’

When Miss Cronin arrived, she recalled: ‘They weren’t doing anything. They seemed out of their depth. It felt like the two locum doctors were nervous about calling anyone more senior than them.’

The inquest heard Mr Gorny was restrained by security guards and sedated with strong medication to calm him down. Later, he was put into a side room and left alone.

Miss Cronin said she sat in his room for three hours the night before he died without a single nurse checking on him or giving him vital medicine.

Dr. Smith also linked to this article where doctors have to prescribe water to patients in order to ensure that they do not die of dehydration in the NHS. This is what you get in a secular socialist system of health care where you pay through your working life and then when you ask for health care, you get in line, because they spent your money buying votes from people with “free” breast implants, sex changes, abortions, contraceptives and IVF.  Is that health care?

The benefit of the free enterprise system with respect to health care is that you keep your money in your pocket and you pay for quality health care at the best price. No one complains about Amazon.com, they only complain about the Department of Motor Vehicles. There is a reason for that. Amazon has to compete for your business, but government monopolies don’t. You have no choice when it comes to government monopolies. They don’t care. They get paid anyway.

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UK midwives protest ruling forcing them to perform abortions

From the UK Telegraph. (H/T Dina)

Excerpt:

Mary Doogan, 57, and Concepta Wood, 51, told NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde they were not prepared to delegate, supervise or support staff who were looking after patients through “the processes of medical termination of pregnancy”. Their position was rejected by officials and they hope to have the ruling set aside in a judicial review.

The women claim the refusal to recognise their entitlement to conscientious objection violates their rights under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

They say they “hold a religious belief that all human life is sacred from the moment of conception and that termination of pregnancy is a grave offence against human life”. Their involvement in the process would be wrongful and “an offence against God”.

Miss Doogan and Mrs Wood, both midwifery sisters at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, are seeking a ruling at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on their entitlement to conscientious objection under the 1967 Abortion Act. David Johnston QC, for the women, said the matter became an issue for the midwives, who were long-standing employees, in 2007.

They had both previously given notice of conscientious objection to any involvement in abortions and said they were not expected to participate in such treatment. But in 2007 the health board introduced changes that meant patients undergoing medical terminations were cared for in the labour ward, where the women worked. They were not expected to administer abortion-inducing drugs but management said requiring conscientious objectors to provide care for patients through a termination was lawful.

If the health care system were private, then it would be easy for midwives to find another company to work for that did not violate their consciences. But when the government runs the whole health care system, where are you supposed to go? They are a monopoly and they make the rules. Yet another reasons for Christians to vote for smaller government. In a free market, if you don’t want to buy something from one store, you can go to another store. There is competition. But where are these nurses supposed to go? They are midwives, and the government and the courts make the rules in a government-run health care system.

Even here at home, Obama is showing his hostility to rights of conscience.

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