Saskatchewan physicians to be forced to participate in killing their patients

For Immediate Release

Maurice Vellacott, MP Saskatoon-Wanuskewin

OTTAWA – “The assault on freedom of conscience that is spreading across our country ought to be of grave concern to every freedom-loving Canadian ,” MP Maurice Vellacott said upon learning of yet another province (this time his own) that plans to force physicians to participate in morally objectionable procedures, including those that kill. “No health care worker should be forced against their will to take part in the killing of another human being. It would be a grotesque violation of their human dignity.”

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan (CPSS) has adopted in principle a policy[i]  which it basically “cut and paste” from the Conscience Research Group’s (CRG’s) Model Policy on Conscientious Objection in Medicine.[ii]

Mr. Vellcott asked a series of questions that paint a disturbing picture of the process, or lack thereof, that went into CPSS’s adoption of this objectionable policy:

“Was the CPSS aware that the drafters of the Model Policy, notably Professor Jocelyn Downie of Dalhousie University, are abortion and euthanasia activists?

Did the CPSS solicit input from anyone other than Professor Downie and her team at the CRG[iii] before adopting this policy?

Did the Saskatchewan College let on to anyone else that it was even considering this issue?

Is the CPSS aware that this policy was rejected by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA)?”

Mr. Vellacott explained: “Professor Downie and co-author Sanda Rodgers, in a 2006 guest editorial in the CMA Journal, ignited a firestorm of controversy when they falsely claimed that CMA policy requires physicians to make abortion referrals regardless of their conscientious/religious beliefs. As Sean Murphy, Administrator of the Protection of Conscience Project, points out in his recent news release, that claim was repudiated by the CMA and vehemently rejected by physicians. And partly as a result of that negative response, Professor Downie turned her attention to the regulatory Colleges to try to convince them to impose mandatory referral.”[iv]

Earlier this month, Mr. Vellacott spoke out against a similar draft policy of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO). At that time, he expressed concerns that if the Supreme Court of Canada strikes down Canada’s current ban on euthanasia or assisted suicide, then CPSO’s policy would mean Ontario’s physicians would have a ‘duty to refer’ patients for these life-ending procedures. He stressed that no other jurisdiction that currently allows euthanasia or assisted suicide imposes such an obligation. [v]

“While the CPSO policy is not identical to the CPSS/CRG Model Policy, in principle it is the same—a coercive attempt to involve physicians in the killing of some of the most vulnerable members of our human family,” Mr. Vellacott said. “The sheer fact that these Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons feel that a coercive policy of referral for these controversial procedures is necessary, is itself testament to the fact that there is something inherently problematic about these procedures in the first place. If they were procedures just like any other medical procedure, there’d be no need to coerce physicians into sacrificing a fundamental part of who they are—their very consciences—in order to provide them.”

“No good can come from forcing a doctor to practice medicine in a way they find morally reprehensible. Killing the consciences of our medical doctors will cause inestimable harm to the people of Canada and society as a whole.”

“One cannot help but wonder, what is the real motivation of those pushing us down this dangerous path?  And will we have the courage and wisdom and foresight to stop it?”

For information on providing input to CPSS on its draft policy, visit: http://www.cps.sk.ca/CPSS/CouncilAndCommittees/Council_Consultations_and_Surveys.aspx

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 For further information and comment, call (613) 992-1966 or (613) 297-2249; email: maurice.vellacott.a1@parl.gc.ca

[i] The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan (CPSS) is currently seeking input on a conscientious objection policy dubbed “Conscientious Refusal,”  which it has adopted in principle. This policy would require physicians who object to providing certain “legally permissible and publicly-funded health services” to “make a timely referral to another health care provider who is willing and able to accept the patient and provide the service.” In cases where the patient’s “health or well-being” would be jeopardized by a delay in finding another physician, the physician would be forced to provide the service even when it “conflicts with physicians’ deeply held and considered moral or religious beliefs.” See: http://www.cps.sk.ca/Documents/Council/2015%201%2019%20Conscientious%20Objection%20policy%20approved%20in%20principle%20by%20Council.pdf

[ii] http://carolynmcleod.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/04_Downie-McLeod-Shaw.pdf

[iii] http://conscience.carolynmcleod.com/meet-the-team/

[iv] “Saskatchewan physicians to be forced to do what they believe to be wrong,” Protection of Conscience Project news release, Jan. 27, 2015

[v] See Jan. 8, 2015 news release  and Backgrounder.

No legal “duty to refer” for euthanasia or assisted suicide anywhere in the world

 

Maurice Vellacott, MP
Saskatoon-Wanuskewin

For Immediate Release

OTTAWA – In anticipation of the possible striking down of Canada’s laws against euthanasia and assisted suicide (pending the Supreme Court’s decision in the Carter case), and given the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario’s (CPSO’s) draft policy “Professional Obligations and Human Rights” [i] which, if passed, would require Ontario physicians to make referrals for controversial medical procedures regardless of their conscientious/religious convictions, Member of Parliament Maurice Vellacott today issued the following statement:

I am deeply concerned about the assault on the fundamental freedoms of Ontario’s doctors should CPSO’s policy forcing doctors to make referrals for morally objectionable “treatments” pass. If the Supreme Court of Canada strikes down Canada’s current laws on euthanasia or assisted suicide, then CPSO’s policy would mean Ontario’s physicians would have a “duty to refer” patients for treatments intended to kill the patient.

From the research I have conducted, with the help of the Library of Parliament, I have learned there is not a single jurisdiction in the world that forces doctors to violate their consciences through mandatory referrals for these life-ending “treatments.” (See attached list of laws in jurisdictions which have legalized euthanasia or assisted suicide.)

We all recognize it is criminally wrong to aid or abet the commission of a criminal act.[ii] In the same way, it would be morally wrong for a doctor to aid or abet (i.e. through referral) the commission of what that doctor deems to be an immoral act – in this case, intentionally killing, or assisting in the killing of, their patient. Following one’s conscience in the provision of euthanasia or assisted suicide, then, entails making a conscientious decision not only about performing euthanasia or assisted suicide, but also about making referrals for them.

The Canadian Medical Association has long been a defender of a physician’s freedom to abstain from being involved in morally objectionable procedures. Last August, the CMA clearly expressed its support for physicians’ freedom of conscience in the provision of euthanasia and assisted suicide should those acts ever be legalized.[iii]

In spite of no jurisdiction in the world imposing on physicians a legal duty to refer for euthanasia or assisted suicide, and in spite of the support for freedom of conscience by the national medical organization representing Canada’s physicians, we have the regulatory body in Ontario poised to punish physicians who act upon their moral guidance system that tells them that killing their patients is wrong.

Over the years, there have been repeated attempts by activists and special interest groups to impose their version of morality on all health care workers (almost succeeding in 2008 to convince CPSO to impose mandatory referral, until a loud public outcry from right across the country compelled CPSO to reverse course.) Such was the threatening climate that compelled me to introduce several private members bills, in successive Parliaments, that would protect health care workers who had conscientious objections to being involved in practices that deliberately take human life.

If the Supreme Court strikes down our laws against assisted suicide/euthanasia, then it will be up to Parliament to come up with a new law. It is clear from CPSO’s actions that we can’t leave it to the regulatory bodies to protect freedom of conscience. Any new law to regulate these life-ending medical procedures will need to include explicit protection for those health care workers who won’t take part in any action that aids or abets the killing of their patients.

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For further information and comment, call (613) 992-1966 or (613) 297-2249; email: maurice.vellacott.a1@parl.gc.ca


Notes

[i] http://policyconsult.cpso.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Draft-Professional-Obligations-and-Human-Rights.pdf

[ii]http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-46/FullText.html

  1. (1) Every one is a party to an offence who
  • (a) actually commits it;
  • (b) does or omits to do anything for the purpose of aiding any person to commit it; or
  • (c) abets any person in committing it.

[iii] “Medical Association vows to protect conscience rights,” by Michael Swain, The Catholic Register, August 27, 2014, http://www.catholicregister.org/item/18703-medical-association-vows-to-protect-conscience-rights;  and Resolution adopted by General Council at 2014 AGM: “The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) supports the right of all physicians, within the bounds of existing legislation, to follow their conscience when deciding whether to provide medical aid in dying as defined in CMA’s policy on euthanasia and assisted suicide.” (https://www.cma.ca/Assets/assets-library/document/en/GC/Final-Resolutions-GC-2014-Confirmed-Nov-2014.pdf )

Student pressured to participate in abortion

Saskatchewan, Canada

In speaking to the protection of conscience bill he introduced in the Canadian House of Commons, Mr. Maurice Vellacott told the House about an encounter he had had with one of his constituents, a student who was under some duress to participate in abortion. [Full text]

Conscience Legislation for health care workers to be debated in House of Commons

News Release

Ottawa — Bill C-207, which would protect health care providers, particularly nurses, from being forced to participate, against their wills, in abortion procedures or acts of euthanasia, will be debated in the House of Commons this week. Debate is currently scheduled for Thursday November 18 at 5:30pm.

The bill summary for C-207 (formerly designated C-461 during the last session of parliament) reads as follows: “This enactment protects the rights of health care practitioners and other persons to refuse, without fear of reprisal or other discriminatory coercion, to participate in medical procedures that offend a tenet of their religion, or their belief that human life is inviolable.”

In recent years there have been many nurses either refused employment or dismissed because     of their unwillingness to capitulate in the face of pressure to assist in abortions. Bill C-207 would remedy that situation. Unfortunately, after the bill is debated it will not be voted on, so that it has no chance of becoming law. This is because the Liberal-dominated sub-committee on Private Members Business chose not to make the bill votable.

The bill has now also been introduced in the Senate as Bill S-11 by Senator Raymond Perrault.

Down the Slope to Infanticide

Nurses At Foothills Hospital Rebel Over The Horrifying Results Of Late-Term ‘Genetic Terminations’

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Marnie Ko

Genetic terminations unquestionably constitute murder in the minds of the Foothills nurses who contacted this magazine after hospital administrators demanded they assist with abortions. The nurses are backed by a February 26 administrative memo obtained by this  magazine which states that for Maternity Care Centre (MCC) staff, “not participating in terminations is not an option.”

At Calgary’s Foothills Hospital some premature infants are born alive, then routinely allowed to die. For instance, last  August a doctor told a mother-to-be that her baby suffered from lethal genetic defects. The mother was persuaded to undergo a “genetic
termination,” and a regularly used procedure called an induction abortion was performed only five weeks before the baby was due. Chemically induced labour was followed by a live birth. But because the mother had decided her child should not live, nurses were forbidden to provide even such basics as food and fluids. [Full text]

Nurses Triumphant! Human Rights Case Ends in Settlement

After a difficult five year struggle, eight Ontario health care professionals win the right to choose.

Markham-Stoufville, Ontario, Canada

Sue Careless*

Staff with religious objections will not be required to provide primary nursing care to a patient admitted for an abortion, but could be required to provide post-abortion nursing care. They would not, however, have to in any way participate “in the administration, monitoring or documenting of the pregnancy termination process.”

They did it!

After a five year battle, eight Ontario nurses won the right to refuse to assist in abortions at the Markham-Stoufville Hospital, just outside Toronto. The nurses had taken their fight to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and one nurse, Ailene George, had filed a civil suit.

They hope their victory will be precedent-setting. “I want all nurses in the future to have the right to say, “No,” said Joanne Van Halteren, one of the eight. “This will have a ripple effect.”

The case was to be heard by the OHRC, but the sides reached a mediated settlement April 13 in which the hospital issued a policy respecting the nurses’ religious objections to performing abortions.

. . . The nurses’ battle took its toll. One nurse, Ann Mahon, died of cancer in May 1998. Others suffered stress-related illnesses. Una Clennon had a lump removed from her breast that her doctor believed was brought on by stress. [Full text]

 

Personal Qualms Don’t Count

Foothills Hospital Now Forces Nurses To Participate In Genetic Terminations

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 Marnie Ko

 “The present mood is…chaotic, helpless, frustrated and highly emotional,” Sally wrote. In the past weeks, I have witnessed tears, breakdowns, illnesses, and stress such as never before…Sick calls have been high and experienced staff nearly impossible to recruit.”

 

Though the tiny infant had been condemned to die, distraught nurses at Calgary’s Foothills Hospital spent hours last August caring for it anyway.

“The mother didn’t want the baby, so we took turns rocking and holding it for 12 hours until it finally died,” says Foothills nurse “Catherine,” whose real name has been withheld to protect her job. “Nurses were only allowed to comfort the suffering infant, but this did not even include feedings.”

The rejected baby’s fate was sealed when it survived a “genetic termination,” an abortion performed only five weeks before the mother’s due date. Doctors had told her that her baby had lethal genetic defects. But Catherine could see only a baby. “I was sick for weeks,” she says. [Full text]