Globe and Mail
Doctors who refuse to provide certain treatments on religious or moral grounds must tread delicately or risk trampling human-rights laws, according to the chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, which is expected to weigh in soon on a review of professional guidelines for physicians practising in Canada’s largest province.
“First and foremost their job is to provide health-care services to people who require them,” Barbara Hall said. “If [doctors] wish to put forward their own human rights as a barrier to doing that then they may come up against the fact that their rights are not absolute.”
In an interview, Ms. Hall said doctors generally do not enjoy the same legal protections as religious officials – a point her commission underlined to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) when the medical regulator last updated its policy on doctors and the human-rights code in 2008. . . [Full text]
The Globe and Mail
Canada’s largest medical regulator is reviewing its policy on physicians and the human rights code, a document that wrestles with a thorny question: When can a doctor refuse to treat a patient on religious or moral grounds?
The review by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) is a regularly scheduled revisiting of the policy, which was last updated amid controversy in 2008.
But the checkup also comes a few months after word spread online and in the mainstream media of a form letter distributed by three Ottawa doctors who declined to prescribe birth control because of their “religious values,” a rare example of physicians openly refusing – in writing – to provide services for religious reasons.
In another case that surfaced this week, a Calgary woman posted to Facebook a picture of a sign on the door of a walk-in clinic that read: “Please be informed the physician on duty today will not prescribe the birth control pill,” although the sign did not explain why. . . [Full text]