Internal memos show how a handful of Canadian lawyers launched a national campaign against doctors’ conscience rights

LifeSite News

Steve Weatherbe

March 11, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Only a few weeks after Ontario’s College of Physicians and Surgeons voted to compel the province’s doctors to refer and even perform operations they consider immoral, Saskatchewan’s College is scheduled to follow suit. But all Canada’s provincial governing bodies have been urged to get on the bandwagon as part of a national campaign from an obscure, federally-funded coterie of pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia academics.

According to Sean Murphy, director of the British Columbia-based Protection of Conscience Project, the pro-abortion Conscience Research Group is the prime mover behind efforts by the leadership of the Ontario and Saskatchewan medical professions to force their members to do abortions, assist at suicides, and euthanize their patients upon request.

“Based on the correspondence I’ve seen,” Murphy told LifeSiteNews, “there does appear to be a movement to impose this on all doctors in Canada.” . . .[Full text]

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]

Policy allowing doctors to deny treatment on moral or religious grounds under review

Globe and Mail

Kelly Grant

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]

Entrenching a ‘duty to do wrong’ in medicine

Canadian government funds project to suppress freedom of conscience and religion

 Sean Murphy*

A 25 year old woman who went to an Ottawa walk-in clinic for a birth control prescription was told that the physician offered only Natural Family Planning and did not prescribe or refer for contraceptives or related services. She was given a letter explaining that his practice reflected his “medical judgment” and “professional ethical concerns and religious values.” She obtained her prescription at another clinic about two minutes away and posted the physician’s letter on Facebook. The resulting crusade against the physician and two like-minded colleagues spilled into mainstream media and earned a blog posting by Professor Carolyn McLeod on Impact Ethics.

Professor McLeod objects to the physicians’ practice for three reasons. First: it implies – falsely, in her view – that there are medical reasons to prefer natural family planning to manufactured contraceptives. Second, she claims that refusing to refer for contraceptives and abortions violates a purported “right” of access to legal services. Third, she insists that the physician should have met the patient to explain himself, and then helped her to obtain contraception elsewhere by referral. Along the way, she criticizes Dr. Jeff Blackmer of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) for failing to denounce the idea that valid medical judgement could provide reasons to refuse to prescribe contraceptives. . .
Full Text

 

Justification for conscience exemptions in health care

Bioethics. doi: 10.1111/bioe.12055

L. Kantymir, C. McLeod

Abstract

Some bioethicists argue that conscientious objectors in health care should have to justify themselves, just as objectors in the military do. They should have to provide reasons that explain why they should be exempt from offering the services that they find offensive. There are two versions of this view in the literature, each giving different standards of justification. We show these views are each either too permissive (i.e. would result in problematic exemptions based on conscience) or too restrictive (i.e. would produce problematic denials of exemption). We then develop a middle ground position that we believe better combines respect for the conscience of healthcare professionals with concern for the duties that they owe to patients. Our claim, in short, is that insofar as objectors should have to justify themselves, they should have to do it according to the standard that we defend rather than according to the standards that others have developed. [Full Text]