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)

Customers claim Walgreens refuses to fill legitimate prescriptions


Several Walgreens customers contacted Action 9, claiming that the pharmacy chain refuses to fill their pain prescriptions.

Walgreens has a policy to curb narcotics abuse, but Action 9’s Todd Ulrich found that the company won’t reveal its guidelines, and its secret policy can punish legitimate customers, too.

Manuel Rabell’s back pain was so bad that his doctor prescribed the potent painkiller hydrocodone. But at Walgreens, the pharmacist refused to fill it, saying that it didn’t fit their policy guidelines. [Full text]


With assisted suicide, what begins in compassion seems to end in eugenics

National Post

Andrew Coyne

The case for assisted suicide and euthanasia, at least as it has been presented, is that we may freely dispense with certain moral distinctions, once considered of some importance – between killing yourself and having someone else kill you; between refraining from prolonging life and deliberately ending it – while continuing to insist on any number of others.

The issue is thus invariably cast as if the practice would be reserved for adults of sound mind, in the final stages of a terminal illness, suffering unbearable physical pain, freely consenting to have done to them what they would surely choose to do themselves were they not so disabled. In its most complete form, the patient must not only consent, but actually initiate the process in some way (hence “assisted” suicide, versus euthanasia, where someone else does the deed). At all events we are assured the task would be performed by a licensed physician, no doubt with a sterilized needle. . . [Full text]

New Brunswick health minister unaware of abortion-euthanasia connection

Project Letter to the Editor,
Fredericton Daily Gleaner

Sean Murphy*

Re: “Abortions won’t be available in all hospitals. “The Fredericton Daily Gleaner, 28 November, 2014

New Brunswick’s Minister of Health and the President of the province’s Medical Society both claim that physicians who refuse to provide abortion for reasons of conscience have an obligation to refer patients to colleagues who will. These assertions contradict the positions of the Canadian Medical Association and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New Brunswick. Mr. Boudreau and Dr. Haddad also fail to recognize how such a policy would play out should assisted suicide and euthanasia be legalized. The Protection of Conscience Project intervened at the Supreme Court of Canada in the Carter case on precisely this point.1

Some influential academics have been attempting to force physicians to refer for abortion for years. They now claim that “because” physicians can be forced to refer for abortion, they should be forced to refer for euthanasia.2 If they have succeeded in converting Mr. Boudreau and Dr. Haddad to their point of view, it is not shared by physicians who refuse to be parties to killing, before or after birth.

The Canadian Medical Association expects physicians who decline to provide abortions for reasons of conscience to notify a patient seeking abortion “so that she may consult another physician.” There is no requirement for referral.3 The College of Physicians of New Brunswick suggests referral as a “preferred practice,” but acknowledges that referral may not be acceptable. Physicians may, instead, provide information about resources available to patients that they can use to obtain the service they want.4


1.  Murphy, S. “Project Backgrounder Re: Joint intervention in Carter v. Canada.” Supreme Court of Canada, 15 October, 2014

2. 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. 70 (Accessed 2014-12-02)

3. Murphy S. “‘NO MORE CHRISTIAN DOCTORS.’ Appendix ‘F’- The Difficult Compromise: Canadian Medical Association, Abortion and Freedom of Conscience.” Protection of Conscience Project

4. Comment by College of Physicians and Surgeons of New Brunswick (November, 2002) Re: Declining to provide service on moral/religious grounds.

Looking back on 15 years: an anniversary

December, 1999 to December, 2014

Sean Murphy*

The Protection of Conscience Project celebrates its 15th anniversary in December, 2014. The formation of the Project was one of the eventual results of a meeting in Vancouver with British Columbian Senator Ray Perrault1 in the spring of 1999.

Senator Perrault wished to continue the work of retiring Liberal Senator, Stanley Haidasz, whose protection of conscience bill was stalled in the upper chamber.2 Among the experiences that spurred Senator Perrault to continue Senator Haidasz’s work was an encounter while going door to door during an election campaign. A nurse, in tears, told him that she had quit work after 15 years because she was required to participate in abortions, and could no longer do so in good conscience.

The meeting was sponsored by the Catholic Physicians Guild of Vancouver. Most participants were physicians or pharmacists. They spoke of their growing concern that they would be penalized or forced out of their professions if they continued to practise in accordance with their religious or moral beliefs. It became clear that these health care professionals had come to recognize the growing threat to their freedom to serve their patients without violating their personal and professional integrity. This was a key factor in the establishment of the Protection of Conscience Project nine months later.

While the meeting in 1999 was called by a Catholic organization, the Protection of Conscience Project is a non-profit, non-denominational initiative that does not take a position on the acceptability of morally contested procedures like abortion, contraception or euthanasia: not even on torture. The focus is exclusively on freedom of conscience and religion.

The Project is supported by an Advisory Board drawn from different disciplines and religious traditions, a Human Rights Specialist and an Administrator, all of whom serve without remuneration.3 It was conceived as an initiative rather than an organization, association or society; it has no ‘members’ or structures of an incorporated entity. This ensures that the time and energy that would otherwise be needed to maintain corporate structures is spent on more immediately practical work. The name originated in a comment made by Iain Benson, then Senior Research Fellow of Canada’s Centre for Cultural Renewal, now Senior Resident Scholar, Massey College, University of Toronto.4

“We don’t need another organization,” he said. “We need a project.”  [Full text]