The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, the state regulator of the practice of medicine in the province, is reviewing its policy on freedom of conscience for physicians (Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code). A first phase of public consultation ended 5 August, 2014 and attracted almost 1,800 responses in a discussion forum, most supportive of freedom of conscience [CMAJ].
The straw poll on the consultation page asked the question, “Do you think a physician should be allowed to refuse to provide a patient with a treatment or procedure because it conflicts with the physician’s religious or moral beliefs?” The results of the survey (the accuracy of which seems uncertain) showed that, of 32,912 respondents, 25,230 (77%) answered “Yes”, 7,616 (23%) answered “No” and 66 were undecided.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission unsuccessfully attempted to suppress freedom of conscience in the medical profession in Ontario in 2008. In its 2014 submission to the College, the Protection of Conscience Project stated: