O Canada, Glorious and Free!

Canadian Healthcare Network

Reproduced with permission

Cristina Alarcon

The wrath of the media has fallen upon a handful of doctors—most recently a female Calgary practitioner—for politely informing their patients (as per College requirements) that they will not prescribe the pill.

Nevermind that there is no lack of doctors or clinics within a short distance who will comply. Ah, the politics of birth control!

The most recent attack comes from a retired ob/gyn who appears to have forgotten the lyrics of our beloved anthem (See O Canada! We must stand on guard for women’s reproductive rights).

Where is the glorious and free?

Forgotten is the reality that we live in a pluralistic, democratic society, and that true Canadian liberalism disagrees with the dogmatic view that all must think alike.

To force a doctor to act against his conscience is to open wide the doors to state-controlled medicine

Should freedom of conscience and religious belief not be protected in a liberal democracy? Should a woman’s so-called reproductive rights trump the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by our Canadian Charter (see section 2 [a]).

As well stated by blogger Brian Lilly, only a revisionist such as Trudeau Jr. would twist the words of his own father to claim that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was meant to grant women abortion rights.

But no matter what your stance on abortion, there are certain rights without which society as we know it would cease to be.

Thus, the rights of freedom of conscience and religion are inalienable and universal.

They derive from the unique dignity of the human person and constitute the bedrock on which all other human rights rest—the foundation of every truly free society.

No need to remind ourselves that the suppression of these rights contributed to the most gruesome monstrosities ever carried out by otherwise good doctors under the Nazi regime.

To his credit, the ob/gyn who wrote the O Canada piece does defend the wearing of turbans and openness to diversity. He also wisely states that if one is moral, one does not deliberately harm.

But to harm the conscience of people by forcing them to participate in something they find deplorable, even if legal, is to break the very fabric of society.

It would force doctors to kill patients if that were legal; it would force them to prescribe the newest medical fad diet pills; it would force those who (for non-religious reasons) don’t believe in pumping women with exogenous hormones to do so, no matter what the known cancer and other health risks.

And to force a doctor to act against his conscience is to open wide the doors to state-controlled medicine, reducing the professional to a well-paid, educated puppet-on-a-string.

Cristina Alarcon is a Vancouver pharmacist and writer. She holds a master’s degree in bioethics.

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