What happens when a patient’s right to die and a doctor’s right to refuse collide?

Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Jonathan Charlton

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan is set to finalize a policy to guide the province’s doctors on the controversial issue of doctor assisted death.

While the Supreme Court of Canada has struck down the old law forbidding the service, the former Conservative government didn’t introduce new legislation. The new Liberal government, meanwhile, could ask for an extension to the court’s Feb. 6, 2016 deadline.

However, the College doesn’t want doctors in the province to be stranded without any guidance, hence its own policy, which could be finalized at the College’s meeting Friday.

Associate registrar Bryan Salte walked the Saskatoon StarPhoenix through the complex issue. This interview has been condensed and edited for length and clarity. [Full text]


Project submission re: conscientious objection policy

Conscientious objection policy rasies thorny issues for Sask. doctors

Saskatoon Star Phoenix

Jonathon Charlton

A draft policy under review by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan does not require doctors who refuse to perform an abortion to refer patients to one who will.

Associate registrar Bryan Salte declined to comment on specifics in the draft, noting they could change. The CPSS committee working on the policy was set to review it further Friday, and it will go to the full CPSS council for formal approval in principle June 19. . . [Full text]



Saskatchewan policy forcing doctors to violate conscience fails to win enough support: final decision delayed


Steve Weatherbe

A move to force Christian doctors in Saskatchewan to do abortions, assist at suicides, or refer patients to other willing doctors failed to win sufficient support at a meeting of the College of Physicians and Surgeons’ ruling council Thursday.

Faced with 4,400 hostile letters, many instigated by the Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, the council decided to continue discussion at an emergency meeting on Saturday, and likely to put off a final vote until June, after a full public consultation.

“They weren’t all on the same page at all,” said Colette Stang, the head of Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association. “So it was a bit of a relief. I was pleased the decision wasn’t made.”. . . [Full text]

Uniform coercive policy urged for all Canadian physicians

Project submission to the Saskatchewan College of Physicians discloses details

News Release

Protection of Conscience Project

The Protection of Conscience Project has charged that a controversial policy proposed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan is unjustified.

The policy, Conscientious Refusal, will require all Saskatchewan physicians who object to a procedure for reasons of conscience to facilitate the procedure by referring patients to a colleague who will provide it, even if it is homicide or suicide.

The Project noted that the burden of proof was on the policy’s supporters to prove that the policy is justified and that no less oppressive alternatives are available.  “They failed to do so,” states the submission. “The policy should be withdrawn.”

Conscientious Refusal fails to recognize that the practice of medicine is a moral enterprise, that morality is a human enterprise, and that physicians, no less than patients, are moral agents” said the Project, describing the policy as “profoundly disrespectful of the moral agency of physicians.”

Using documents provided by the College, the Project’s submission traces the origin of the policy to a meeting in 2013. The meeting was apparently convened by the Conscience Research Group (CRG), activist academics whose goal is to compel physicians unwilling to provide morally contested procedures like abortion or euthanasia to refer patients to someone willing to do so. They presented a coercive model policy that had been drafted to achieve that goal.

According to a CPSS memo, College attendees included Saskatchewan Associate Registrar Bryan Salte, Dr. Gus Grant, Registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia, Andréa Foti of the Policy Department of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and a representative of the Collège des Médecins du Québec. They agreed upon a text virtually identical to the CRG model.

In May, 2014, Bryan Salte proposed the policy to Registrars of the Colleges of British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario, who, he reported, agreed to review it and consider implementing it. He later urged all of the Registrars of Colleges of Physicians in Canada to adopt the coercive policy or one very like it, noting that “physician assisted suicide, in particular” would be present a challenge for administrators.

“Any College that is an outlier, either because it has adopted a different position than other Colleges, or because it has not developed a policy, will potentially be placed in a difficult position,” he warned.

The CPSS memo discloses that, unbeknownst to physicians, officials in several provinces have been making plans behind closed doors to suppress freedom of conscience in the medical profession.

“One of the disturbing aspects of the story,” notes the submission, “is what appears to be a pattern of concealment, selective disclosure, and false or misleading statements that all serve the purpose of supporting the policy.”

The Project’s most recent submission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario identifies a similarly troubling pattern, describing briefing materials supplied to College Council in support of its controversial policy as “not only seriously deficient, but erroneous and seriously misleading.”

Project Submission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan (2015)

Project Submission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (2015)

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]

What is plagiarism? Saskatchewan College of Physicians provides “teachable moment” for students, teachers

Sean Murphy*

High school and post-secondary teachers plagued by the problem of plagiarism can thank the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan for providing them with a “teachable moment.”

Saskatchewan’s College of Physicians has published a draft policy intended to force objecting physicians to do what they believe to be wrong, including participation in euthanasia, assisted suicide, and abortion.  The policy is virtually a word-for-word copy of the Model Conscientious Objection Policy proposed by euthanasia and abortion activists – without attribution.

Bryan Salte, speaking for the College, denied that the College document was taken from the Model Conscientious Objection Policy, though he did admit that it was a “significant source.”

Now Saskatchewan students have a comeback for teachers who award a “0” for plagiarism because they have copied most of a paper from a “significant source” on the internet.  They can quote Mr. Salte.

On the other hand, Saskatchewan teachers might take this as a “teachable moment”  to explain that it is unethical to pass off someone else’s work as one’s own – even if one likes it and agrees with it entirely and the real authors are pleased with the results.

It might even be a good topic for a class on ethics in medical research.

‘This is moral genocide’: Canadian doctors blast plans to force them into helping patients procure abortion

LifeSite News

Steve Weatherbe

REGINA, Saskatchewan, February 17, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Christian doctors across Canada are vowing to challenge the constitutionality of the requirement now being considered by the Saskatchewan medical profession that all its members be required to perform abortions or assist at suicides—or refer patients to other doctors who will.

“This is moral genocide,” Saskatoon emergency room doctor Philip Fitzpatrick says of the policy, already approved in principle without consultation with doctors or the public by the Saskatchewan College of Physicians and Surgeons.

“There’s no medical reason for these clauses overriding our consciences,” he continued. “The people who want euthanasia and abortion on demand just don’t like the fact somebody disagrees. They are trying to chase us out of the profession.”

“We have to sue the College if it approves this policy,” Larry Worthen, executive director of the Christian Dental and Medical Association of Canada, told LifeSiteNews. “Half our members will have to quit if it were enforced. It goes against their very reason for being in medicine.” . . .[Full Text]

Saskatchewan doctors could face discipline over assisted suicide

Global News

Doug Lett

SASKATOON – Doctors in the province who refuse to cooperate with physician-assisted suicide could face discipline according to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan.

“If a physician feels the directives are wrong, they will still, we would expect, they will still follow those directives,” said Bryan Salte, associate registrar of the college, “in spite of the fact they may not agree with them.”

While the college has not come up with policies around assisted suicide, it is circulating a draft policy on conscientious refusal. It says while doctors can refuse to provide a legally provided service if it violates their freedom of conscience, they do have to make a referral to another health care provider who will do it.

That means a doctor who believes suicide is wrong would still have to refer a patient to a doctor who would help them kill themselves. . . [Full Text]