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

Service, not Servitude


College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia

Policies relevant to freedom of conscience

Links and annotations

Full TextCMA Code of Ethics and Professionalism
Full TextAccess to Medical Care
Effective 2012 Nov | Revised 2022 Feb 17
Project Annotations

Under Conscientious Objection to Providing Care,"assistance" should not be understood to imply providing or facilitating a morally contested service, since that interpretation would render the policy self-contradictory.  In responding to questions from the Project in 2013, the College provided the following answers:

  • Q)  Is Access to Medical Care to be understood to require physicians to do what they believe to be immoral or unethical?
    • A)  No.
  • Q)  Does the College propose to take disciplinary action against physicians who refuse to do what they believe to be immoral or unethical?
    • A)  No, unless the College considers that in those specific circumstances the physician abandoned the patient without providing an appropriate level of medical care.

Full TextMedical Assistance in Dying
Effective 2016 Sep | Revised 2022 Feb 17
Project Annotations

In the provision about conscientious objection, the policy recognizes an important distinction between providing information and providing or facilitating a morally contested service or procedure.

"An effective transfer of care" is defined as "advising patients that other physicians may be available to see them, suggesting the patient visit an alternate physician or service, and if authorized by the patient, transferring the medical records as required."

In other words, with respect to a transfer of care, the College does not require objecting physicians to initiate a transfer, but only that they cooperate in a patient-initiated transfer if asked to forward the patient's medical record.  This is the usual requirement in foreign jurisdictions where euthanasia and assisted suicide are permitted