Wednesday January 9, 2008

Even Canada’s Father of Abortion Morgentaler Approves Allowing Docs to Opt Out

By John Jalsevac

TORONTO, Ontario, January 9, 2008 ( – In a wide-ranging recent interview with National Review of Medicine, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the so-called “Morgentaler Decision,” the court decision that de-criminalized abortion in Canada, Canada’s father of abortion admitted that doctors should be allowed to opt-out of performing abortions.

When asked, “Should doctors be allowed to conscientiously object to performing an abortion?” Morgentaler answered, “Yes. One fundamental reason is that doctors should not be obliged to do things which they don’t approve of themselves, and secondly, a more practical reason, a doctor who doesn’t believe in it is more likely not to do a good job.”

The question of freedom of conscience for doctors was raised most recently in Canada last summer, when the Washington D.C. based National Abortion Federation (NAF) issued a demand to the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) that all doctors in the country be forced to refer for abortions, whether or not they object morally or on religious grounds. Currently the CMA allows doctors to opt-out of performing abortions.

Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of the NAF, said physicians must put their patients’ interests ahead of “their own religious and moral convictions.”

Two years ago a guest editorial in the July Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) perpetuated a widespread myth, claiming that the Morgentaler decision had instituted a constitutional right to abortion, and that physicians who “fail to provide appropriate referrals…are committing malpractice and risk lawsuits and disciplinary proceedings.”

While CMA ethics director Dr. Jeff Blackmer clarified the CMA’s position in the April 24, 2007 issue of the CMAJ, he was quoted in the National Post May 5 as saying that “a huge groundswell from the membership one way or another” could force a reevaluation of CMA’s abortion policy.

At the time the organization Physicians for Life issued a call to pro-life advocates to write the CMA to ensure that the right to conscientious objection is upheld.

In the recent interview with National Review of Medicine, Morgentaler responded to dozens of questions having to do with how he became one of Canada’s most notorious figures, his motivations for fighting for abortion, his thoughts on pro-life activists, and numerous other issues.

To read the complete interview, see:

The Interview: The Morgentaler decision turns 20…

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