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Protection of Conscience Project

www.consciencelaws.org

Service, not Servitude
Ethics

NOTABLE CHALLENGES

Re: Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code

Ontario Human Rights Commission (August, 2008)

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario is the regulatory and licensing authority for physicians and surgeons practising in Ontario, Canada. In February, 2008, the Ontario Human Rights Commission recommended that the exercise of freedom of conscience by physicians be restricted. The College then drafted a policy that demanded that Ontario physicians sacrifice their freedom of conscience to avoid prosecution by Ontario's human rights apparatus.  See Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Responses and Submissions to the Colllege of Physicians and Surgeons

Protection of Conscience Project

  • . . .Physicians who decline to do something they believe to be wrong are not discriminating against individuals on grounds prohibited by the Ontario Human Rights Code. Their concern is to avoid direct or indirect complicity in wrongdoing, not with the personal characteristics, status or inclinations of a patient. . .
    Submission
 

Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform

  • . . .I recently read the CPSO's draft policy document, "Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code." In reviewing the document I was struck by its intolerance towards the deeply-held, truth-based beliefs of physicians. . .
    Full text of letter
 

Canadian Family Physician

  • . . . Of course, it is essential that physicians treat patients with respect and courtesy even if they have differences of opinion. And it is possible to maintain healthy relationships in difficult situations without physicians having to act against their conscience. . .
    Full text of editorial (Kelsall D. Whose right? Can Fam Physician 2008;54:1353
 

Canadian Physicians for Life

  •  . . . The College documents present an unseemly image of the College preparing to shine its shoes before inspection by a higher authority. And yet human rights commissions, as you are undoubtedly aware, are increasingly scrutinized for various abuses which they themselves engender. . .
    Full text of interim response
  • . . . It is not the responsibility of any physician to manage, promote, or enhance access to a procedure which he or she finds medically harmful and morally repugnant. The ethical bankruptcy of any society which would punish physicians who object to abortion, and the imprudence of doctors sitting in regulatory institutions who would threaten to punish their objecting colleagues, should be obvious. . .
    Full text of submission
 

Catholic Archbishop of Toronto

  • . . .If a physician cannot in conscience perform or facilitate an action that is requested, wil that physician face the threat of being sanctioned for violating a patient's human rights and for professional misconduct?  Is that the cost of being true to one's conscience? . . .
    Full text of letter
 

Catholic Civil Rights League

  • . . .Canada has an established custom of accommodating sincerely held religious and conscientious convictions as much as possible. The expectation that physicians must set aside their beliefs with regard to treatments or referrals that violate their conscience is unreasonable . . .
    Full text of submission
 

Catholic Organization for Life and Family

  • . . . COLF is concerned about the policy's implicit expectations upon physicians with respect to engaging in a medical act to which they may have a conscientious objection. Second, we are concerned about the policy's seeming redefinition and narrowing of the role of the physician vis-à-vis the patient and within society. . .
    Full text of submission
 

Centre for Cultural Renewal

  • . . .Human Rights, it seems, now entails monitoring conflicting beliefs in society, turning them into one half of a human rights issue, and then, by eradicating the possibility of dissent (for that is what a physician's ability to refuse to refer amounts to) forcing some citizens to effectively implicate themselves in the beliefs of other citizens. . .
    Full text of submission
 

Chalcedon Foundation

  • . . .Canada's human rights commissions and tribunals have become a law unto themselves. They are not bound by rules of evidence, precedent, or courtroom procedure. The state pays all the plaintiffs' legal costs, but defendants must pay their own. "Feelings" are accepted as evidence, and the "likelihood" of damages being incurred, at some indefinite time in the future, substitutes for real damages that can be shown to have been incurred. . .
    Full text of article
 

Christian Legal Fellowship

  • . . . As there is no basis in the law or in the established policies of the OHRC, CMA, or CPSO for the draft policy, we respectfully request that the policy be rejected. . .
    Full text of submission
 

Ontario Medical Association

  • . . .It is the OMA's position that physicians maintain a right to exercise their own moral judgment and freedom of choice in making decisions regarding medical care and that the CPSO not insert itself into the interpretation of human rights statutes. . .
    (OMA President's Update, Volume 13, No. 23, 11 September, 2008.  Removed from website.)
  • The Ontario Medical Association wants the provincial licensing body to kill a proposal that would force physicians to put aside their religious beliefs when making decisions in their medical practice.
    "We will not defy our beliefs, doctors say" (National Post, 13 September, 2008)
 

Fr. Raymond De Souza

  • A timely intervention has prevented the cancer from metastasizing, but aggressive treatment is still needed. . . There was a real danger of metastasis, as the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) attempted to spread its corruption to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO). The timely intervention came from the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) and other public voices. . .
    "Human Rights" vs. Basic Freedoms

 

Dr. T.E. Lau

  • . . .Please reconsider forcing physicians to go against their conscience. With the a new euthanasia bill on the horizon and the lack of any limitation to abortion for any reason or at any stage, it is clear to me that taking this stand will endanger the principled, conscientious, and responsible care of our patients, not just now but in the years to come.
    Full text of letter
 

Dr. Margaret Somerville

  • . . .Unlike the mechanic, however, a physician who refuses to be involved, for instance, in abortion, is not providing the service to one patient but not another, or basing his refusal on any characteristic of the patient. Rather, he is refusing the service to all patients and doing so because of the nature of the procedure, which he believes is morally and ethically wrong. . .
    "Denying doctors free conscience unconscionable"
 

John W. Veldkamp

  • I have just become aware of the document "Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code" and I feel compelled to inform the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons (the "College") of my concerns that this document is both deeply flawed and unworkable. . .
    Full text of letter
 

Dr. Stephen Genuis

  • . . .the policy of coercing ethical doctors to do what they feel is unethical-whether by threat of lawsuits or disciplinary action-displays supreme intolerance of diverse views and choice precisely at a time in Canada when human rights commissions are demanding more tolerance, heralding choice, and proclaiming respect for diversity. . . . it seems physicians are entitled to express their opinions to patients only as long as they say the "right" things according to the OHRC grid. . .
    Discrimination on the basis of ethical orientation
 

Rory Leishman

  • The Ontario Human Rights Commission is truly evil. By threatening to prosecute physicians under the Ontario Human Rights Code for refusing to participate in an abortion on demand, it has perpetrated one of the worst attacks on the right to conscience of physicians since Arthur Seyss-Inquart, Reich Commissar for the occupied Netherlands, tried to compel Dutch physicians to take part in the Nazi euthanasia program for the "useless, incurably sick." . . .
    Physicians: Act on your convictions
 

Louis DeSerres

 

 

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