Unacceptable to force doctors to participate in assisted dying against their conscience: CMA head

National Post

Sharon Kirkey

No physician in the country should be forced to play a role in any aspect of assisted dying against their moral or religious beliefs — including referring patients to another doctor willing to help them die, the Canadian Medical Association says.

Legalized physician-assisted death will usher in such a fundamental change in practice “we simply cannot accept a system that compels physicians to go against their conscience as individuals on something so profound as this,” CMA president Chris Simpson said in an exclusive interview.

The unanimous Supreme Court of Canada ruling legalizing assisted dying would not compel doctors to help patients end their lives when the historic decision takes effect next year.

But the justices were more guarded on the issue of mandatory referral, saying the Charter rights of both patients and doctors will need to be reconciled.

Dr. Simpson said that many doctors who conscientiously object to assisted dying feel the very act of referral “is contrary to their personal ethics or moral or religious beliefs.” . . . [Full text]

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