Alberta medical regulator wants College of Family Physicians of Canada to help improve abortion pill access

The Globe and Mail

Carly Weeks

Alberta’s medical regulator is calling on the college representing Canada’s family doctors to help it boost prescribing rates of the abortion pill, saying the current poor access in the province is putting patients at risk . . .

. . . A Globe and Mail investigation on Saturday revealed that the majority of abortion-pill prescriptions across Canada are being written at abortion clinics, which are primarily located in large urban centres. . .[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 “The policy should be withdrawn.”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)

Doctor on duty ‘will not prescribe the birth control pill,’ reads sign at Calgary walk-in clinic

National Post

Manisha Krishnan

CALGARY – A doctor at a Calgary walk-in clinic is refusing to prescribe birth control due to her personal beliefs.

Dr. Chantal Barry will not prescribe contraception, a receptionist at the Westglen Medical Centre confirmed. Patients looking for birth control are provided a list of other offices in the city that prescribe it.

Westglen only has one doctor available to walk-in patients at any given time, so a sign at the facility’s front desk reads, “The physician on duty today will not prescribe the birth control pill.”

“I was shocked and outraged,” said Joan Chand’oiseau, 45, who saw the sign while attending an appointment with her gynecologist Tuesday. Ms. Chand’oiseau immediately posted a photo of the sign on Facebook, prompting angry responses from several of her friends.

“I don’t think her belief system should have any part in my reproductive health,” she said.

Under the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta’s policy on Moral or Religious Beliefs Affecting Medical Care, doctors can refuse to provide medical services, but must ensure the patient is offered timely access to those services from another practitioner. . . [Full text]

Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons challenged to think about conscience rights

News Releases

Canadian Physicians for Life

Canadian Physicians for Life calls on the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta to verify the alleged charges of women being bullied by pro-life physicians.

The tone of the statement from College Councillor Dr. Eugene Kretzul is patronizing and dismissive of the conscience rights of doctors. The “nudge-nudge, wink-wink” suggestion that morally troublesome issues need only be referred to a colleague is oblivious to the principled objections of pro-life physicians.  Increasingly exotic reproductive technologies may eventually offend even the most laissez-faire physicians. There may come a day where no physician feels free from coercion to violate his or her conscience.

The “pro-choice” Alberta College apparently lacks tolerance for physicians’ choice to be pro-life. The Code of Ethics of the Canadian Medical Association requires physicians to “inform a patient when their personal morality would influence the recommendation or practice of any medical procedure that the patient needs or wants.” The Alberta College suggests pro-life doctors go further: usher abortion requesters into the abortion-on-demand system or face the charge of being unprofessional.

In Alberta, as elsewhere, it is often easier for women to obtain an abortion than support and counseling services. For a woman to make a truly “informed decision” she must be presented with the embryology of her   unborn child so that she will know that she is aborting a human being, not just a clump of cells or a piece of her own tissues. She deserves more than the wave-through suggested by the College’s statement.

A number of studies report a close correlation between abortion, especially of a first pregnancy, and breast cancer. Are Alberta physicians telling abortion seekers of this threat to their health? Are women being informed of the risk of post-abortion emotional trauma? Are patients being warned that some physicians’ ardent pro-abortion beliefs bias the “counselling” process?

And if abortion seekers have complained of being bullied, has the College conducted diligent enquiries into such serious accusations? What was the outcome? Or is polemical hearsay the College’s new standard of evidence when the target is pro-life doctors?

In plain English, independent medical professionals have no duty to refer anyone to anyone when the referral would violate the conscience and the medical good judgement of the professional. This elementary conscience  protection impartially shields doctors who possess any convictions on any topic at all. Whether the request be for genital mutilation, the amputation of a healthy limb, or an abortion, the true professional will never be coerced into offending his or her basic principles. Canadian Physicians for Life calls on the Alberta College to retract and clarify its venture into professional conscience ethics.

Will Johnston, M.D.

Secretary-Treasurer

For further information
Canadian Physicians for Life Administration
Phone (604) 794-3772; Fax (604) 794-3960
Email: info@physiciansforlife.ca