Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 24, 2004
Freedom of conscience policies wanted for medical staff
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
The co-chairs of the all-party Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus (PPCL) want government policies that will guarantee the "constitutionally-protected" freedom of conscience for pro-life nurses, doctors, pharmacists and medical students.
Three co-chairs, Conservative Party of Canada MPs Maurice Vellacott and Elsie Wayne, and Liberal MP Paul Steckle held a news conference drawing attention to what they say are injustices against pro-life health care professionals.
Vellacott said he is aware of complaints made by people in the medical professions about the pressure on nurses and doctors when they refuse to take part in abortion procedures or provide referral services for women seeking abortions.
"Some of this harassment has included loss of advancement in the workplace, reduced flexibility in the workplace, threat of job loss and risk of failure in medical school," he said.
The PPLC, which represents all pro-life MPs and senators, charges governments across Canada "capitulated to abortion rights activists who have demanded access to abortion even over conscientious objections of nurses, doctors, pharmacists and medical students."
In one of her last tasks as a PPLC co-chair, Wayne said people have no idea how many children are "murdered, and that's what they are, through abortion."
Asked whether abortion will be an issue in the upcoming federal election, Steckle said, "It is not a single issue, it's a faith, moral and conscience issue."
Vellacott was encouraged by the possibility of more free votes in the House of Commons following the next election.
"If members are allowed to vote their conscience - and vote the will of their constituents in a lot of cases, too - I think you'll see some different legislation move forward that would be life affirming, pro-life if you will, legislation in the House of Commons."