Protection of Conscience Project
Protection of Conscience Project
Service, not Servitude

Service, not Servitude


College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta

Policies & statements relevant to freedom of conscience

Medical Assistance In Dying (June, 2016)

Project Annotations

Accommodation of objecting physicians is complicated by differences between two practice standards, Conscientious Objection and Medical Assistance in Dying.

Medical Assistance in Dying is a chimerical document, largely an Order in Council published by the College as a medical standard of practice. Its direction to objecting physicians is convoluted, and it differs from that provided by Conscientious Objection. It requires different responses from physicians to a patient "inquiry" about euthanasia or assisted suicide and a patient's oral or written "request" for the services.

In addition to other problems, the distinctions between an "inquiry" and "request," the different responses required of physicians and the subtle difference between providing contact information and providing reasonable access would invite confusion even if the subject matter were uncontroversial.

While there appear to have been no complaints about non-compliance, and the Alberta model has been praised by freedom of conscience advocates, this is probably in spite of existing policies and tendentious interpretation of those policies by CPSA officials.

If accommodation of physician freedom of conscience in Alberta is currently satisfactory, it is probably because tolerance is encouraged by individuals in key positions within government and the health professions, and because the relatively few physicians who refuse to refer patients for morally contested services treat patients respectfully, discuss their concerns and options and provide them with contact information for Alberta Health Link.

See Physician freedom of conscience in Alberta