Ontario physicians to be forced to do what they believe to be wrong

Draft policy demands that objectors provide or refer.

Policy would apply to euthanasia, if legalized.

Protection of Conscience Project News Release

A draft policy of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario demands that physicians must provide services to prevent imminent “harm, suffering and/or deterioration,” even if doing so is contrary to their moral beliefs.

Should the Supreme Court of Canada legalize euthanasia, the policy will require objecting physicians to lethally inject patients themselves if a delay would result in “harm” or “suffering.” In less urgent circumstances, the policy will require physicians unwilling to kill patients to promptly refer them to “a non-objecting, available physician or other health-care provider.”

However, many physicians who object to killing patients for reasons of conscience would also object to referral. Dr. Charles Bernard, President of Quebec’s Collège des médecins, has explained that mandatory referral effectively nullifies freedom of conscience: “It is as if you did it anyway.”1

Dr. Bernard was talking about Quebec’s euthanasia law, but the same principle holds with respect to abortion – another procedure that involves killing.

Prominent academics and activists want to force objecting physicians to provide or refer for abortion and contraception. They and others have led increasingly strident campaigns to suppress freedom of conscience among physicians to achieve that goal. The College’s draft policy clearly reflects their influence.

However, crusades against physicians who refuse to provide or refer for abortion are dress rehearsals for eventual campaigns against physicians who refuse to kill patients. It is not a coincidence that activists who would force objecting physicians to facilitate abortion and contraception also intend to force objectors to refer for euthanasia – and for the same reasons.2

The Project insists that it is incoherent and contrary to sound public policy to include a requirement to do what one believes to be wrong in a professional code of ethics. It is also an affront to the best traditions of liberal democracy, and, ultimately, dangerous.

The College Council has tentatively approved the policy, but will accept further public input until 20 February, 2015 before imposing it on Ontario physicians.


1.  Consultations, Tuesday 17 September 2013 – Vol. 43 no. 34: Collège des médecins du Québec, (Dr. Charles Bernard, Dr. Yves Robert, Dr. Michelle Marchand) T#154

2. For example: Schuklenk U, van Delden J.J.M, Downie J, McLean S, Upshur R, Weinstock D. Report of the Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel on End-of-Life Decision Making (November, 2011) p. 62, 69, 101 (Accessed 2014-02-23)

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