Alberta’s doctors say they worry about the effects of a conscience rights bill

The Globe and Mail

Christina Frangou

Dr. Jillian Demontigny keeps a rainbow bracelet wrapped around the stethoscope that she drapes across her neck. It’s her signal to any LGBTQ patient who arrives at her clinic: you are welcome here.

Dr. Demontigny is one of 13 physicians working at the Taber Clinic, a family medicine clinic in a southern Alberta town of 8,500 people. Over her 14 years in Taber, she has expanded her practice to offer extra supports for patients looking for the kind of health care that can be hard to access in this rural, conservative region, where anti-abortion billboards are posted along the highway. . . [Full text]

Controversial conscience rights bill will die on order paper

Second session of 30th legislature starts on Feb. 25

CBC News

Michelle Bellefontaine

A controversial private member’s bill on conscience rights for medical providers will be dropped now that the government intends to prorogue the first session of the 30th legislature. 

Government House Leader Jason Nixon announced on Wednesday that the second session will start Feb. 25 with a speech from the throne. . . [Full text]

Debate over conscience rights hasn’t cooled off in Alberta

Fifty Covenant Health physicians write open letter against Bill 207

Grandin Media

Kyle Greenham

A private member’s bill to protect the conscience rights of health professionals in Alberta is still fighting for survival.

United Conservative Party MLA Dan Williams plans to advocate for Bill 207, the Conscience Rights (Health Care Providers) Protection Act, well into the new year. Williams’ bill would ensure health practitioners — and organizations — can conscientiously decline a procedure without worry that they would be penalized or, at worst, lose their job. . .[Full text]

Controversial conscience rights bill in limbo as fall sitting wraps up

Standing committee recommended Bill 207 not proceed to second reading

CBC News

Michelle Bellefontaine

The fate of a controversial private members’ bill on conscience rights for medical providers is in limbo as the fall sitting of the Alberta legislature wraps up this week.

On Monday, MLAs were to debate whether they would accept a report from the standing committee on private bills and private members’ bills, which recommended Bill 207 not proceed to second reading. . . the house was suddenly adjourned after a man died by suicide on the steps of the legislature building.  . . [Full text]

Legislature adjourns after apparent suicide on front steps

Edmonton Jounal

Moira Wyton

Monday’s afternoon sitting of the legislature was temporarily adjourned after a body was found on the building’s front steps.

A person died by suicide after a firearm was shot on the legislature grounds shortly after 3 p.m.

At 3:12 p.m., Peace River MLA Dan Williams was giving a passionate speech in the legislature in an attempt to keep alive his private members’ bill about health-care workers’ conscience rights. . . [Full text]

Doctors call for end of conscience rights bill up for discussion today

‘We don’t support abandoning our patients,’ Edmonton doctor says

CBC News

Anna McMillan

A controversial conscience rights bill that critics say would reduce access to health care is back up for discussion in the legislature Monday — and Edmonton doctors are urging the government to vote it down. 

On Nov. 21, the standing committee on private bills and private members’ public bills determined Bill 207 should not move forward for debate. The legislature will vote Monday on whether to accept the all-party committee’s recommendation.

“This bill needs to die,” said Dr. Shelley Duggan, a critical care physician who works at Covenant Health facilities in Edmonton. . . [Full text]

Conscience rights bill dies in committee

The Catholic Register

Kyle Greenham

EDMONTON — A United Conservative Party MLA has lost his bid to strengthen the rights of health-care providers in Alberta to refuse procedures contrary to their moral beliefs.

Dan Williams’ Bill 207, the Conscience Rights (Health Care Providers) Protection Act, was shot down by his fellow members of the legislature who sit on the assembly’s standing committee for private members’ bills. Eight of 10 committee members voted against the bill’s second reading, including some of Williams’ UCP colleagues.

Neither Premier Jason Kenney nor Health Minister Tyler Shandro had voiced support for the bill. Nevertheless, Williams will continue to advocate for conscience rights. . . [Full text]

Medical schools should deny applicants who object to provide abortion, assisted death: bioethicist

Global News

Rachel Browne

A bioethicist is calling for medical schools to eliminate applicants who would oppose providing medical services over objections to them based on their personal beliefs.

The call from Udo Schuklenk, a Queen’s University professor and the Ontario Research Chair in Bioethics, comes as the Alberta government grappled with a controversial bill that would have allowed health-care providers to refuse to provide medical care if they object to it on religious or moral grounds. . . [Full text]

Bill 207 may have served its true purpose

Medicine Hat News

Jeremy Appel

Bill 207 has been aborted, at least for the time being.

The controversial piece of legislation, which would have allowed health-care providers to refuse to provide certain medical services under the guise of “freedom of conscience,” was quashed Thursday night in committee.

It was a thinly-veiled effort to roll back abortion, assisted suicide and transgender rights as a concession to the religious right. It rightfully provoked fierce public backlash from the very health-care providers whose rights it purported to protect. . . [Full text]

UCP’s shutdown of conscience rights bill can’t mask firing of commissioner

Edmonton Journal

Keith  Gerein

For Albertans dismayed at the political cynicism on display during the breakneck passage of Bill 22, it was gratifying to see an otherwise disheartening week at the legislature end with one small act of democratic redemption.

Like finding a precious keepsake that survived a fire, the rejection of Bill 207 by a legislature committee Thursday night restored at least some faith that not all is lost with Alberta’s politics.

Such an outcome was vital, not just for stopping legislation that could have done real harm to patients in the name of imagined threats to “conscience rights,” but also for the process which actually saw UCP and NDP MLAs engage in a (mostly) thoughtful discussion and come to a commendable conclusion. . .[Full text]