NewsFri Sep 12, 2008 - 12:15 pm EST
Archbishop, Rabbi, Physician Group Condemn Efforts to Curb Ontario Physician Conscience Rights
By Tim Waggoner
OTTAWA, September 12, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Today marked the deadline for public comment on the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeon’s draft policy that seeks to prohibit medical professionals from obeying their consciences. In light of this, several prominent parties have made concerted efforts to condemn the proposed policy that, if put into effect, will force medical professionals to "set aside their personal beliefs" and take part in grievous anti-life practices.
"We are deeply disturbed by the draft policy of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario," said Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa and Rabbi Dr. Reuven P. Bulka in a joint statement on the proposed policy. "Many doctors have expressed a reasonable fear that if this policy is passed, they might be disciplined, and even lose their licenses, for obeying their conscience. They would no longer be free to refuse to perform or refer for certain medical acts that are contrary to their firmly held beliefs."
Referring to the Canadian Charter and the freedoms it promulgates, they said, "To force anyone to violate their conscience would go against not only the text of these documents, but also against their underlying spirit. Such coercion would be fundamentally and shamefully un-Canadian.
They continued, "Freedom of conscience should never be viewed as the enemy of other human rights. Quite the opposite; without freedom of conscience, other human rights would be much more easily abused. Some people believe that doctors need to be forced to provide all medical services that are legal, because otherwise they might impose their values on others… However, forcing doctors to act against their own faith principles would be a radically unjust and dangerous solution. Forced medicine is never good medicine."
Physicians for Life have also sent a statement to the College, protesting the draft policy. They addressed "the ethical bankruptcy" of a society that coerces its medical professionals to partake in abortions and said the statement compromises the human rights of physicians:
"When physician and patient disagree about whether or not a procedure is a good thing, the OHRC’s Chief Commissioner herself, Barbara Hall, apparently expects the CPSO to coerce and punish the physician for failing to agree with the patient, on the grounds that the College should endorse and enforce the patient’s views at the serious cost of breaching the human rights of the physician."
"We strongly object to the attempt by the OHRC to subvert thousands of years of medical ethics and to deny the essential humanity of physicians by suppressing their freedom to act in accord with their deepest moral beliefs, merely to avoid the inconvenience some patients might experience in having to ‘shop around’ for morally controversial procedures," said PFL.
PFL’s statement also expressed the group’s disapproval of the draft policy’s claim that it is an act of "discrimination" for a physician to refuse to aid a patient in obtaining morally questionable services:
"But nothing of the sort can be said about morally controversial procedures like abortion, euthanasia, or artificial reproduction. If there is a conflict between a physician and patient as a result of a refusal to facilitate such a procedure for reasons of conscience, the conflict originates not in discrimination but in a disagreement between the physician and the patient about what constitutes a good thing."
PFL, Archbishop Prendergast and Rabbi Bulka, like many concerned Canadians, are requesting that the College does not put the draft policy into effect.
See related coverage:
Ontario Human Rights Commission and College of Physicians Collude to Remove Doctors’ Conscience Protections