National Media Watch

Seal of Confession Under Attack in New Hampshire

CONCORD MONITOR, Feb. 1 — For the second time in three years, New Hampshire lawmakers have introduced a bill that would require pastors to report suspected cases of child abuse, even if the abuse was learned in the privacy of the confessional, reported the Monitor.

“[We] feel it’s important that there be no exemptions from the mandatory reporting statute,” said Scott Hilliard, representing the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police.

The Diocese of Manchester disagreed, saying that the law weakens religious freedom. Diane Quinlan, chancellor of the diocese, said that allowing a “limited exception” for the sacrament of confession is crucial to the free practice of Catholicism.


Kansas Court Says Juvenile Sex Should Be Reported

WICHITA EAGLE, Jan. 28 — A Kansas Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a court order that prohibited enforcement of a law requiring health care providers to report underage sexual conduct to authorities, said the Eagle.

The three-judge panel reversed a lower court’s ruling that the state has a legitimate interest in information about the sexual conduct of children that overrides the minor’s right to privacy, siding with Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline.

The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of abortion businesses arguing that reporting minors’ sexual activity, even if it was illegal, violated the right to privacy.

The case now goes back to federal court.

Pharmacists Sue Walgreens Over Contraceptives

REUTERS, Jan. 28 — Four Illinois pharmacists have sued Walgreens, saying they were wrongly fired for refusing to dispense “morning-after” contraceptives.

The lawsuit said that the pharmacy chain violated Illinois’ Health Care Right of Conscience Act, which allows health care providers to refrain from procedures they object to on moral grounds.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich ordered pharmacists last April to make the “morning-after” pill available “without delay.” Walgreens had all its Illinois pharmacists file an electronic statement saying they would follow the state’s pharmacy regulations. Walgreens spokesman Michael Polzin said that the four pharmacists were not fired but placed on unpaid leave in November and offered jobs in other states.

“In punishing these pharmacists for asserting a right protected by the Conscience Act, Walgreens broke the law,” said Francis Manion, lawyer for the American Center for Law and Justice which is representing the pharmacists.

Schwarzenegger: Voters to Decide on Euthanasia

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, Jan. 25 — California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said that the issue of physician-assisted suicide should be decided by voters, not legislators, reported the Chronicle.

Euthanasia proponents, reacting to the Supreme Court’s ruling that the federal government may not restrict physicians in Oregon from dispensing lethal drugs to patients, hope to win approval for a law in the California Legislature. A bill was introduced last year and will have its first hearing in March. It would allow certain terminally ill Californians to obtain a lethal dose of medication from physicians after a waiting period and multiple medical evaluations.

“I personally think it’s a decision that probably should go to the people, like the death penalty,” Schwarzenegger told a luncheon meeting of the Sacramento Press Club. “I don’t think that we — 120 legislators and I — should make that decision.”