Freedom of Conscience for Ontario Doctors: Public Comment Extended to September 12

Wed Aug 20, 2008 - 12:15 pm EST

By Tim Waggoner

OTTAWA, August 20, 2008 ( - After receiving pressure from several public interest groups, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has extended the designated public comment period on their proposed policy that would force physicians to refer patients for medical practices that conflict with their consciences.

Public comment on the new draft policy document, "Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code", was slated to end on August 15, but concerned groups demanded this period be extended. Under the proposed plan physicians will be in breach of the Human Rights Code if they refuse to refer women for controversial practices such as abortion or same-sex fertility treatment.

"Canada has an established custom of accommodating sincerely held religious and conscientious convictions as much as possible," said the Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) in a press release regarding the policy. "The expectation that physicians must set aside their beliefs with regard to treatments or referrals that violate their conscience is unreasonable."
  CCRL has invoked the College to review and revise the proposed policy to "offer the best possible protection for freedom of religion and freedom of conscience for all concerned."

The Protection of Conscience Project and Physicians for Life also protested the policy, with the latter saying it came at a huge surprise because it "would appear to severely limit the freedom of Ontario physicians to practice according to their conscientious/religious beliefs."
  The extended public comment period will close on September 12.

To express concerns to the College contact: [email protected]
  Andréa Foti
  College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario
  80 College Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5G 2E2
  Tel: 416.967.2600 ext. 387
  Fax: 416.967.2644
  Email: [email protected]

See a copy of the draft policy here:

See the Physicians for Life press release here:

See related coverage:

Ontario Plan: Professional Misconduct when Doctors Fail to Refer for Abortion

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