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Report: Vatican asks protection for doctors’ conscience rights

March 19, 2007

From Catholic World News

The Pontifical Academy for Life has called for an amendment to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, to include a “conscience clause” for health-care personnel who will not participate in procedures that offend against the dignity of human life.

In a statement released on March 16, summarizing the results of a February conference on the rights of conscience and the right to life, the Pontifical Academy said that the UN should “complete” its protection of human rights with a statement that would “guarantee the right to be a conscientious objector and to defend this right against discrimination in the field of work, education and government benefits.”

The statement noted that health-care personnel today often face severe conflicts of conscience with the wider legal acceptance of abortion, sterilization, euthanasia, fetal research, and other practices incompatible with respect for human life. Under these circumstances, the Pontifical Academy for Life said, the medical professions have become a testing ground for the Christian conscience, and “the due exercise of decided conscientious objection assumes great importance.” The document from the Pontifical Academy drew a rebuke from one leading Italian government official. Luigi Manconi, an undersecretary in the nation’s justice department, rejected the idea that lawyers might also be justified in conscientious objection. “The Church should focus on teaching ethics, not politics,” he said.

See also:
The Vatican: Pontifical Academy for Life

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