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by Hilary White  
OTTAWA,  July 6, 2006 ( – A guest editorial appearing in a recent edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) has claimed that the 1988 Morgentaler decision of the Supreme Court of Canada that ended all legal protection for the child in the womb,  created a constitutional right to abortion and that doctors do not have the right to refuse to make abortion referrals.
  The article was co-authored by Sandra Rodgers, a pro-abortion law professor who teaches a course to University of Ottawa medical students entitled “Abortion Services in Canada.” Mme. Rodgers sets the tone starting with the bold assertion: “Access to reproductive health care is essential to women’s health and for some women, abortion is a key component of that care.”
  The editorial complains that abortion and abortion-related services are restricted by lack of access. She writes, “In 1988, in Morgentaler, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized that a woman’s right to continue or to terminate a pregnancy is protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and struck down the law.”
  But as Barbara McAdorey of Canadian Physicians for Life points out, the Morgentaler decision never created such a thing in Canada as a “constitutional right” to abortion.
  To the contrary, the Supreme Court called upon Parliament to establish laws protecting the right to life of the unborn child.
  Justice Dickson wrote in the decision, “Protection of foetal interests by Parliament is also a valid governmental objective. It follows that balancing these interests, with the lives and health of women a major factor, is clearly an important governmental objective.”
  Justice Beetz wrote in the case, “I am of the view that the protection of the foetus is and, as the Court of Appeal observed, always has been,  a valid objective in Canadian criminal law.”
  The CMAJ editorial also claims that the CMA Code of Ethics says that physicians who “fail to provide appropriate referrals…are committing malpractice and risk lawsuits and disciplinary proceedings.”
  The CMA Code of Ethics, however, does not require physicians to refer for abortions against the dictates of their conscience. The policy states, “A physician whose moral or religious beliefs prevent him or her from recommending or performing an abortion should inform the patient of this so that she may consult another physician.”
  McAdorey contacted the CMA and was told in an email dated March 24,  2004, from Dr. Jeff Blackmer, Executive Director, Office of Ethics,  Canadian Medical Association, “That doctor would not be required to make a referral against his or her conscience. However, patients should be clearly told of the physician’s views and the patient’s right to consult with another physician.”
  Contact the CMAJ:
  CMA Public Affairs
  attn: Heike Hemlin
  1867 Alta Vista Dr.
  Ottawa, ON
  K1G 3Y6
[email protected]
  613-731-8610 ext. 1703