College of Physicians and Surgeons demands “effective referral” for euthanasia, assisted suicide
For immediate release
Protection of Conscience Project
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has quietly issued a directive that physicians who, for reasons of conscience or religion, are unwilling to kill patients or help them commit suicide, must help them find someone willing to do so.
The requirement appears in the policy Planning for and Providing Quality End-of-Life Care, approved in September by College Council:
8.3 Conscientious Objection
Physicians who limit their practice on the basis of moral and/or religious grounds must comply with the College’s Professional Obligations and Human Rights policy.
A note explains that limiting practice includes refusals to “provide care” (i.e., kill patients or assist with suicide.)
The College’s policy, Professional Obligations and Human Rights , demands that physicians who are unwilling to provide procedures for reasons of conscience or religion must make “an effective referral to another health-care provider,” which is defined as “a referral made in good faith, to a non-objecting, available, and accessible physician, other health-care professional, or agency.”
As a result of the demand for “effective referral,” Professional Obligations and Human Rights is the subject of a legal challenge filed by the Christian Medical and Dental Society and the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians’ Societies. Among other things, the suit alleges actual bias or a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of the working group that developed the policy.
Professional Obligations and Human Rights was approved by College Council in March, 2015, despite overwhelming opposition to the demand for “effective referral” that was evident in the returns during the public consultation. The College issued a statement with the policy to the effect that it did not apply to euthanasia or assisted suicide. It promised to revisit the issue after Parliament or the provincial legislature enacted laws in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Carter v. Canada.
“It was obvious at the time that this was an ingenuous tactic that they hoped would defuse opposition to the policy, at least among Council members” said Protection of Conscience Project Administrator, Sean Murphy. “This development simply confirms the obvious.”