While a WMA ethics policy would have no legal effect in Canada, the organization’s policies are often a template for future legislation and regulation of the medical profession around the world, said Worthen. WMA policies are also influential in medical schools. . . [Full Text]
An open letter has been sent to the members of Ontario’s Provincial Parliament by His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, together with a number of other religious leaders, asking the Government of Ontario to enshrine into law the protection of conscience rights for health-care practitioners in Ontario who refuse to participate in the administering of euthanasia. The open letter was released on 27 March 2017 with respect to provincial Bill 84 (Medical Assistance in Dying Statute Law Amendment Act). The Coalition of HealthCARE and Conscience have also developed a resource which explains the current problem with Ontario’s proposed euthanasia legislation and the lack of conscience protection rights.
The Ontario Government’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs held a public hearing on this matter this past 23 March. Cardinal Collins, the Most Reverend Ronald P. Fabbro, Bishop of London and President of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario, and Dr. Moira McQueen, Director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, were present during the hearing and provided an oral presentation advocating for conscience rights. Several doctors and nurses were also present advocating for legislation to protect conscience rights.
The Archdiocese of Toronto released a video today of Cardinal Collins explaining the moral issues at hand in relation to conscience rights in Ontario and Bill 84.
TORONTO – Dr. Luigi Castagna doesn’t think of practicing medicine as a protest movement. But a stalemate over conscience rights for doctors who object to physician-assisted dying may change that.
“We may have to resort to civil disobedience,” Castagna told The Catholic Register.
Castagna is a member and former president of the St. Joseph Moscati Toronto Catholic Doctors’ Guild. He doesn’t think helping a patient commit suicide is good medicine and he doesn’t think he should refer suicidal patients to doctors who believe it their duty to accommodate requests for death.
“You do, on occasion, encounter suicidal patients,” said Castagna. “That’s how we saw them before the (Supreme Court) decision. They were suicidal. It’s a psychological condition and you find out the reason. You do what you do with any patient. You do a history, a physical examination. You establish a diagnosis and you treat them. Successful treatment means that they now wish to live again.”
Given the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario policy that forces doctors to provide an “effective referral” for any recognized, legal medical procedure or treatment, even in those cases where the doctor objects on moral or religious grounds, there is great fear among members of the Doctors’ Guild they will be forced to refer for assisted suicide. . . [Full text]
OTTAWA – Doctors’ conscience rights are threatened by a proposed policy of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) that may force them to refer patients for morally problematic procedures, warn some physicians’ organizations.
The CPSO has given a Feb. 20 deadline for input into the policy that would force physicians to refer patients for procedures such as abortion and assisted suicide (the Supreme Court on Feb. 6 struck down prohibitions against assisted suicide) against their consciences. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan is also considering similar changes to its policy, with a deadline of March 6 for public input.
The Christian Medical and Dental Society (CMDS) Canada has been working closely with the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians’ Societies in rallying opposition to the proposed changes.
“The proposed policy demands that doctors refer for, and in some cases actually perform, procedures like birth control, abortion and even euthanasia,” said CMDS executive director Larry Worthen. “Physicians would have to perform these procedures when the regulator considers them to be ‘urgent or otherwise necessary to prevent imminent harm, suffering and/or deterioration.’ . . . [Full Text]
Catholic doctors who won’t perform abortions or provide abortion referrals should leave family medicine, says an official of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
“It may well be that you would have to think about whether you can practice family medicine as it is defined in Canada and in most of the Western countries,” said Dr. Marc Gabel, chair of the college’s policy working group reviewing “Professional Obligations and Human Rights.”
The Ontario doctor’s organization released a draft policy Dec. 11 that would require all doctors to provide referrals for abortions, morning-after pills and contraception. The revised policy is in response to evolving obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code, Gabel said.
There have been no Ontario Human Rights Tribunal decisions against doctors for failing to refer for abortion or contraception.
Gabel said there’s plenty of room for conscientious Catholics in various medical specialties, but a moral objection to abortion and contraception will put family doctors on the wrong side of human rights legislation and current professional practice. . . [Full text]
Numerous life-and-family groups have slammed a draft policy from Ontario’s College of Physicians and Surgeons that threatens to force doctors into providing abortions and contraceptives in some circumstances, calling it “inimical to living in a free society” and “frightening.”
“We can say goodbye to a slew of good doctors in Ontario [if the policy passes],” Andrea Mrozek, executive director of Institute of Marriage and Family Canada, told LifeSiteNews. “If I were one, with a young family, I’d leave. Who wants to live under the threat of constant legal action for doing what you believe is good care?”
The College Council approved the draft policy last week. The policy would force doctors who are “unwilling to provide certain elements of care due to their moral or religious beliefs” — such as abortion — to refer the patient “in good faith” to another doctor who would provide the service.
If there is nobody to whom the patient can be referred, then the doctor “must provide care that is urgent or otherwise necessary to prevent imminent harm, suffering, and/or deterioration, even where that care conflicts with their religious or moral beliefs.”
“Although physicians have [freedom of conscience and religion] under the Charter, the Supreme Court of Canada has determined that no rights are absolute,” the draft policy states, adding that the “right to freedom of conscience and religion can be limited.”
The College’s former president, Marc Gabel, has stated that doctors who fail to comply will face disciplinary action. . . [Full text]
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
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]