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HFHR on conscience clause

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has sent a statement to the Minister of Health, responding to the Constitutional Tribunal’s judgment on the doctor’s conscience clause.

The HFHR has appealed for the immediate launch of works on an effective mechanism that would provide patients with the actual access to health care services in the event a doctor refuses to deliver such services because of his or her beliefs.

“The necessity to introduce an effective procedure that would secure patients’ right to receive health care services results from provisions of the Polish Constitution, and in particular article 68(1) and (2), and international human rights standards”, reads the statement.

“The European Court of Human Rights has many times emphasised in its decisions that the state is obliged to organise the health care system in such a way that the exercise of freedom of conscience by doctors does not prevent patients from receiving services they are entitled to under law”, says Dr Dorota Pudzianowska, legal expert of the HFHR. “Upon the publication of the Constitutional Tribunal’s judgment in the Journal of Laws, the challenged provisions will lose their legal force. As this happens, there will be no entity obliged to inform a patient about the possibility of receiving a health care service from another doctor or at another facility”, explains Dr Pudzianowska.

“It is thus necessary to quickly develop a mechanism that would enable patients to receive full and credible information about the availability of access to the health care services they are entitled to in the situation where a doctor invokes the conscience clause”, underscores the HFHR in the statement.

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