ACLJ Pleased With Resolution Of Case Of Philadelphia Pediatrician | American Center for Law and Justice
  Search  |  Login  |  Register

ACLJ Profile Completion

Verified

ACLJ Pleased With Resolution Of Case

By Francis J. Manion1439571523235

The American Center for Law and Justice is pleased to announce the settlement of the case of Doris Fernandes vs. The City of Philadelphia, et al. Dr. Fernandes, a Catholic pediatrician who objected to participating in certain reproductive health services, particularly contraception, emergency contraception, and making referrals for them, was terminated by the city back in 2013. Fernandes sued, claiming religious discrimination under Title VII, the First Amendment, and various state laws. 

Under the terms of the settlement, the City agrees to adopt a policy permitting any of its medical providers who have religious objections to participating in certain forms of care to redirect patients - short of formal referral - to other appropriate sources. This is consistent with the position endorsed by the American Medical Association in its policy statement, Physician Exercise of Conscience: “When a deeply held, well-considered personal belief leads a physician also to decline to refer, the physician should offer impartial guidance to patients about how to inform themselves regarding access to desired services.”

This resolution is a positive outcome for all involved. It respects to the fullest extent possible the religious liberty of doctors and other medical providers who have religious objections to certain forms of medical care. In a religiously diverse society, highly qualified practitioners may, from time to time, face situations in which their beliefs conflict with requested services. The resolution of this case demonstrates that such practitioners' beliefs can be accommodated without compromising overall medical care.

It is fitting that this important step forward in the struggle to secure protection of the conscience rights of medical providers should take place in Philadelphia.  The city’s founder, William Penn, called his colony a “Holy Experiment,” a society in which freedom of religious belief and practice would serve to enhance human flourishing. That freedom, of course, was embodied by the First Congress (in Philadelphia) in the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause and remains what Philadelphia’s current archbishop, Charles Chaput, has called “a fundamental natural right and first among our civil liberties.” And while disputes about the appropriate limits of the right to exercise one’s religion will inevitably arise – particularly in the complex realm of medical practice – the resolution of the case of Dr. Fernandes shows that, when both sides approach the issues with good faith and mutual respect, solutions can be found that ensure protection of the rights and interests of all.

Latest in
Free Speech

ACLJ Cues Up Free Speech Case for Supreme Court

By Walter M. Weber1534795413681

Today the ACLJ filed a reply in support of our request that the Supreme Court hear an important free speech case, Keister v. Bell . At stake in the case is the freedom of people to speak on sidewalks along public streets. I wrote about this case when we filed our petition in early July. Since then,

read more

A Blow to Big Labor & A Win For Free Speech

By ACLJ.org1530801653531

For decades public sector employees have been forced to subsidize public sector unions and their political and ideological agenda. No more. In a major victory for free speech and free association, the Supreme Court has just struck down requirements that force public sector employees to pay fees to...

read more

ACLJ Petitions Supreme Court in Free Speech Case

By Walter M. Weber1530558422160

The ACLJ today filed a request that the Supreme Court hear an important free speech case, Keister v. Bell . At stake in the case is the freedom of people to speak on sidewalks along public streets. "What?" you say. "I thought Americans already had the right to speak freely on public sidewalks." So...

read more

The University That Swallowed a Sidewalk?

By Walter M. Weber1519311600000

In the 1958 horror movie, "The Blob," a growing reddish blob from outer space devours everyone it touches. Echoing that film, a panel of judges of a federal appeals court ruled that the campus of the University of Alabama, home of the Crimson Tide, devours the speech rights of those on the...

read more