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TORONTO, February 18, 2015 ( — The deadline for feedback on a draft policy proposing to force Ontario physicians to refer for and potentially even provide abortions, contraceptives, and now assisted suicide, ends this Friday, February 20.

Critics of the draft policy say it violates the basic human rights of doctors to freedom of conscience, and puts patients at significant risk of harm.

“The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has no right to force my hand in doing what my medical judgment tells me is wrong,” said a family physician in the comment section of a petition demanding that the CPSO respect doctors' medical judgment and conscience rights.

Moreover, the recent Supreme Court decision to legalize physician assisted suicide has left the policy outlining practice expectations up to the provincial physician's colleges, which have the role of regulating medical actions.

“The current draft does not protect doctors from being coerced or required to participate. The ramifications would be far-reaching,” said another doctor.

The CPSO is also asking for feedback on its draft policy on end-of-life care, titled, “Planning for and Providing Quality of End-of-Life Care.”

The deadline for response to the CPSO consultation on physician-assisted suicide is also February 20. Response information is available from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

Ontario residents wishing to voice their concern/opinion can do so most effectively by sending an email to the CPSO at [email protected] or [email protected] by the February 20 deadline.

The following sample message may be used in corresponding with the CPSO:

Dear Members of the Consultations Committee:

Re: Draft Policy “Professional Obligations and Human Rights”.

I am writing to you with grave concern regarding the content of your proposed draft policy, which indicates that physicians who decline to participate in certain acts for reasons of conscience should be compelled to refer their patients to other physicians who will perform these acts. It does not address the fact that many of these same physicians will find the act of referral itself objectionable, as they consider it material cooperation with the act. In compelling physicians to refer, you are limiting their right to conscientious objection. I am opposed to this.

There is significant disagreement in our society as to what constitutes a moral act, and I do not expect the College to define or limit morality. All I expect is that physicians, as professionals, be allowed to respect their own consciences. Freedom of conscience is foundational to our free society and cannot be limited, even for the best of intentions.

If we coerce physicians into violating their consciences we will inevitably erode the personal integrity which is the basis of the physician's relationship with their patients. I encourage you to revise the sections above, and include a clear defence of the right to freedom of conscience for all physicians.

The CPSO has an online survey about the draft policy, as well as a discussion forum where comments and responses can be posted up to the February 20 deadline.

The petition demanding that the CPSO respect doctors' medical judgment and conscience rights is available here