Controversy over doctors’ right to say “no”

The most controversial issues relate to abortion referrals or prescribing birth control.

CMAJ September 16, 2014 186:E483-E484; published ahead of print August 18, 2014

Wendy Glauser

Religious groups, doctor’s organizations, ethicists and abortion rights advocates are raising concerns around the review of an Ontario policy that outlines, among other things, physicians’ right to object to patients’ requests for services on moral grounds.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario’s Physicians and Ontario Human Rights Code is up for its five-year review, with both public and expert opinion being sought.

On one side of the spectrum, faith groups and especially Catholic organizations are asking that the current policy  –  which allows physicians to opt out of non-emergency services they conscientiously object to  –  shouldn’t be amended.

While the policy covers any potential objection, the ones most discussed in the media have been related to abortion referrals or prescribing of birth control. [Full text]

Input sought on physicians’ conscience rights

The Catholic Register

Evan Boudreau

TORONTO – Silence from the public could cost Ontario’s doctors the right to deny non-emergency procedures, prescriptions and referrals which they morally oppose, warns the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) is conducting a regularly scheduled review, as it does every five years, of its internal human-rights code and is being pressured to modify the sections regarding denying services based on conscience.

“A lot of physicians feel strongly that they want these conscience rights protected,” said Moira McQueen, executive director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute. “We have been encouraging people… to write to CPSO to say keep the policy the way it is so that physicians do not have to prescribe something that they think is morally unacceptable. It usually is about contraception and abortion … neither one of those are truly medical emergencies.” [Full Text]