Diocesan News

Conference to focus on conscience rights in medical field

Story by S.L. Hansen

ASHLAND (SNR) - The Omaha and Lincoln Guilds of the Catholic Medical Association invite all those involved in the medical or legal professions to attend “Protecting and Preserving Conscience Rights,” the combined groups’ fifth annual medical ethics conference.

The event will be held Friday and Saturday, Sept. 18 and 19, at the Quarry Oaks Golf Club and Peter Kiewit Lodge at Mahoney State Park in Ashland. Matthew Bowman, of the Alliance Defending Freedom in Washington D.C. will be the keynote speaker. 

As senior legal counsel for this non-profit legal organization that advocates religious freedom, Bowman focuses his legal efforts on promoting a culture of life. He has had a lead role in legal actions opposing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate, which forces employers to provide employees with healthcare coverage such as early abortion items and birth control in violation of their religious convictions.

Bowman was instrumental in obtaining the first preliminary injunction against that mandate in July 2012 for a Colorado family business (Newland v. Sebelius.)

He also defends the free speech of pro-life pregnancy centers and sidewalk advocates. One of his recent successful cases resulted in a victorious decision against a law targeting pro-life centers (Centro Tepeyac v. Montgomery County, Maryland).

Ed Morse, J.D., president of the Omaha Chapter of the Thomas Moore Society will open the conference during dinner on Friday evening at Quarry Oaks with: “A Year in Review: Risk, Uncertainty, and Hope for Catholic Medicine.” Bowman will then take the podium to speak on “Protecting Institutional Rights of Conscience.”

The conference continues on Saturday morning at the Peter Kiewit Lodge with Mass at 8 a.m., followed by breakfast. The ensuing interactive sessions will all focus on conscience protection in medical care, a topic that is growing in importance throughout the country.

Greg Schleppenbach, executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, will deliver an update on current legislative issues related to conscience protection. Bowman will follow with “Protecting the Right of Conscience for Medical Providers.” Father Steven Major of the Diocese of Lincoln will speak about the challenges of conscience formation in today’s secular culture.

Following these morning talks, there will be a panel discussion with Bowman, Schleppenbach and Thomas Moore Society attorneys.

After lunch, the conference will continue with Michael Dulac, M.D., of Sancta Familia Medical Associates in Omaha. He will inform the group about conscientious informed consent related specifically to pediatric immunizations. Radiologist David Hilger, M.D., also of Omaha, will explore the issues and complications of illicit medical care.

Physicians, attorneys, medical providers, students, clergy and the public are welcome to attend. A wide range of ticket options are available, ranging from $5 to attend the Saturday conference sessions only (excluding meals) to $70 for the entire event (including meals), with sizeable discounts for clergy and students.

To register for the conference by the September 15 deadline, visit www.omahacma.com and click on “News and Events.”

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