Caren Ní hAllacháin
This video describes the kind of experience that can cause health care workers to refuse to be involved in abortion for reasons of conscience.
A presentation at a medical students’ forum hosted by Canadian Physicians for Life.
2:38 – 4:12 Ethical disputes: disagreeing about an “ought”
4:12 – 11:22 World views: dominant culture, ethics, law, decision making processes, religion, society, culture, experience, philosophy
11:22 – 13:58 The patient wants what you will not provide: ct scan, antibiotics, opioids, abortion, life support, contraception, pre-natal genetic tests, CPR, plastic surgery, elective C-sections, elective induction of labour
13:58 – 1834 fiduciary duty, patient access, moral distress
18:34 – 19:43 When patient asks for what you would like to provide, but can’t
19:43 – 21:44 When professional consensus is that you should say no
21:44 – 25:22 When physicians differ on what fiduciary duty dictates: full information, no abandonment
25:22 – 27:18 In some jursidictions, when refusing on moral grounds, in emergencies – provide service; otherwise- effective referral
27:18 – 32:55 Odd Docs and patients: why disputes arise, best practices: communication, compassion, care, honesty
32:55 – 36:24 Odd Docs and administrators: communication, compassion, do other work
Nova Scotia Call for Conscience 2018
Over recent months, it has become increasingly clear that the conscience rights of Nova Scotia doctors are not being adequately protected.
A leading Nova Scotia medical regulator recently told doctors they must participate in euthanasia by making an “effective referral” even if this would require them to violate their conscience. It was made clear that the penalty for refusing to comply could be discipline for “unprofessional conduct”. Performing or referring for assisted suicide and euthanasia involve killing a patient. This is directly opposed to the teachings of many faiths and the traditional Hippocratic oath. Most health care professionals embarked on their careers to heal people, not kill them. No Nova Scotian should be required to be involved against their will.
Other provinces have found ways to provide access without forcing people to act against their moral convictions.
We need to let the Minister of Health of Nova Scotia know that we need legislation to protect conscience rights in our province. In November, Manitoba legislators passed a Bill which said that Manitoba health care professionals could not be compelled to participate in assisted suicide. We need a similar bill here in Nova Scotia. Please write the Minister of Health using the form below. The letter will automatically be sent to the Premier and the leaders of the opposition parties. Conscience rights are an all party issue. We need our legislators to show their support for Nova Scotia health care professionals.
In 2017, the medical students’ forum hosted by Canadian Physicians for Life included a question and answer session about legal issues. Albertos Polizogopoulos is lead counsel in the constitutional challenge to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) policy that demands effective referral for all morally contested services, including euthanasia and assisted suicide. Phil Horgan, a Toronto lawyer, is President of the Catholic Civil Rights League, which jointly intervened in the case with the Faith and Freedom Alliance and Protection of Conscience Project. Questions have been listed below with the corresponding time segments. Links have been provided to background material concerning subjects covered in the answers.
1. How can physicians best disclose to their patients their conscientious objections? (00:00-11:18)
- CPSO Policies: Professional Obligations and Human Rights | Medical Assistance in Dying
- Three Ottawa physicians: NO MORE CHRISTIAN DOCTORS
- Situation in Calgary: Doctor on duty will not prescribe the birth control pill
2. What happens when a patient reports a physician to their college for exercising their right to conscientious objection? (11:18-20:00)
- The Dawson case: Doctor’s Faith Under Scrutiny | CPSO Agreement with Dawson (includes posting of notice in office)
3. How can conscience and religious rights be exercised, practically speaking? (20:00-23:33)
4. Is there a sense that other provinces are just waiting to see what is going to happen with these current cases going on in Ontario? (23:33-34:35)
- Attempt in 2008 by CPSO unsuccessful: Discrimination on the basis of ethical orientation | Elie Wiesel, Without Conscience. NEJM
- Handling of 2015-2016 “public consultations” by the CPSO: Tunnel vision at the CPSO | Court challenge raises reasonable apprehension of bias | A watchdog in need of a leash | CPSO decided results of consultation before it started
5. Can you comment on institutions? Do they have rights themselves? (34:45-40:15)
Ontario Call for Conscience 2018
Assisted suicide has been legal in Canada since June 2016. Discussions are already taking place to expand the criteria to minors, people with psychiatric illness and those with dementia. This puts people who are lonely and isolated at risk of choosing euthanasia simply because they don’t have anyone who cares and can give them hope.
Today in Ontario:
- Physicians and other caregivers are forced to participate in euthanasia against their will, by referring their patients.
- Pro-euthanasia groups are threatening to sue faith based hospitals unless they allow euthanasia on the premises.
- Only a third of the population has access to adequate palliative care, so they are being denied real choice on end of life issues.
This places physicians, nurses and other health professionals in an impossible situation – assist in the killing of their patients or lose the ability to care for patients at all.
This is happening despite constitutional protections for freedom of conscience and religion in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (s.2).
The Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience represents more than 110 healthcare facilities (with almost 18,000 care beds and 60,000 staff) and more than 5,000 physicians across Canada. Our members are unable to participate in taking a patient’s life due to moral or ethical convictions.
The Ontario legislature has the power to protect conscience rights for individuals and facilities and to provide adequate palliative care and mental health services so that people will not see assisted suicide as their only option. Our efforts in Manitoba helped to ensure the province passed conscience protection legislation in November 2017.
In advance of the June 2018 provincial election in Ontario, we have the opportunity to ask candidates from all parties three important questions:
- Will you support legislation to protect doctors, nurses and other health care providers who are being forced to participate in assisted suicide/euthanasia through making a referral?
- How will you protect facilities from being forced to offer euthanasia/assisted suicide on their premises?
- How does your party plan to address the lack of quality palliative care in our province?
To get involved, please participate in your Church’s Sign Up Sunday. We will be collecting contact information to help mobilize a large database of people to contact candidates for the 2018 Ontario provincial election.
For more information, visit www.canadiansforconscience.ca
A nurse formerly employed at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York describes being coerced to participate in abortion. The story illustrates the need for protection of conscience legislation and policies as well as the kind of experience that can cause health care workers to refuse to participate in abortion for reasons of conscience.