SASKATOON, Saskatchewan, September 21, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — Saskatchewan pro-life doctors will now be forced to act against their consciences and provide contraception and abortion thanks to a controversial policy passed with a divided vote on Friday by the province’s governing body for doctors.
The new Policy on Conscientious Objection comes from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan. It outlines a physician’s responsibility to provide patients with information about services, “even if the provision of such information conflicts with the physician’s deeply held and considered moral or religious beliefs” and to ensure that patients are able to access those services.
Despite the policy having come into effect on Friday, it has not yet been released on the College’s website. College Communications Officer Caro Gareau told LifeSiteNews that it may not be released until late tomorrow, four days after mainstream media reported on its passage.
Various doctors’ groups told LifeSiteNews that they are unable to comment on the policy until they have viewed it. Doctors are concerned that the policy has been deliberately withheld to dampen pro-life reaction in the news cycle.
But keeping the policy under a tight lid has not stopped the College’s legal counsel and associate registrar Bryan Salte from telling mainstream media exactly what the policy has in store for doctors.
According to Salte, the policy makes it clear that if a patient is looking for services such as contraception and abortion, the attending physician is now required to ensure the requested procedure is provided one way or another.
“There are two major ways that this has been addressed [in the policy]. One of them is there's an expectation that a physician will ensure that a patient is able to obtain information,” he told CBC News, explaining that the morally or ethically objecting physician could send the patient to a different physician to obtain the information.
“The second way of addressing the issue is if the physician has a moral or ethical objection to the procedures itself, and is now in the position where the patient says, 'I want to receive birth control [or] I want to receive an abortion.' It sets expectations that the physician has to be in a position to ensure that the patient is able to access those services,” Salte said.
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Pro-lifers have argued that forcing a doctor to refer a patient to another doctor is as morally problematic as doing the procedure itself.
“If a physician has the moral or religious conviction that abortion or euthanasia is the taking of an innocent human life, then the physician who formally refers a patient to the abortionist or euthanist has contributed to the taking of that life,” argued two pro-life lawyers in a position paper on the topic published on LifeSiteNews in December.
The College passed the policy despite having received over 4,000 letters from the public expressing disapproval of its plans to legislate a policy that would compromise a doctor’s right to freedom of conscience.
It is not clear at this point if other contentious portions have made it into the newly minted policy, such as the requirement that physicians offer controversial procedures — like abortion or the morning after pill — in cases of so-called medical emergencies.
In what appears to be a nationwide trend of cracking down on doctors who affirm the worth of every human life, Saskatchewan’s policy comes exactly one week after the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons released a similar policy forcing doctors unwilling to kill patients or help them commit suicide to directly refer them to a doctor who would.
The Saskatchewan College stated that for the time being, its new policy does “not apply to physician-assisted dying or physicians’ conscientious objection related to a potential physician-assisted death.”