Reproduced with permission of the author
Dr. Terence McQuiston, M.D.
Dr. Gabel is not alone in this opinion, but I find it nevertheless appalling. Ever since Hippocrates medical ethics were determined by our profession independently of government legislation (including human rights tribunals). We Canadians stood in judgement at Nuremberg over the German physicians of the Nazi period.
Their defense was that they had done nothing outside of the law (true). However, we took the view that ethics transcend and should inform legislation, not the other way around, and therefore we could hold them to account for their deeds.
Such transcendence of ethics is only possible by the exercise of conscience by all physicians. Granted there may be differences arising from this exercise, but we should do our best to accommodate these differences.
That’s why we permit conscientious objection in wartime. Individual conscience is too precious a part of our social fabric to be casually overridden. The policy defended by Dr. Gabel in effect puts conscience on ice. If euthanasia becomes legal, I for one still won’t do it.
This comment responds to the Medscape article “Doctors opposing draft abortion policy may need to rethink whether family practice is right for them, says CPSO official: Direct referrals a sticking point in Ontario’s human rights policy (17 December, 2014) Dr. Marc Gabel was quoted to the effect that physicians unwilling to provide or facilitate abortion and contraception should not practice family medicine. Administrator