STRATHROY, Ontario, April 19, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — An Ontario medical doctor providing palliative care for the sick and the elderly over the past three years has decided to forego renewing her license due to a new regulatory policy that forces doctors unwilling to euthanize patients to refer them to a doctor who will.
“I’m not going to be told what my moral conscience should be,” Dr. Nancy Naylor told LifeSiteNews. “I believe that it is wrong to make anyone go against their conscience, be it doctors' or anyone else. I’m not going to break my Hippocratic Oath (of using my art only to heal and not to cause death).”
Dr. Naylor, who has been a family physician for 37 years and who has worked exclusively in palliative care for the past three years, said she has no wish to stop, but she will not be told that she must go against her moral conscience to provide what the new regulations call a “standard of care.”
“To make a ‘referral’ for physician assisted death…a mandatory requirement for physicians who oppose it — for reasons of ethics or moral conscience — I take as an assault on my integrity and ethics as a physician,” she wrote in a response to an article on the topic in the Canadian Family Physician journal on Sunday.
“I refuse to let anyone or any organization dictate my moral code. For this reason I am not renewing my licence to practice medicine,” she said.
In September, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario issued a policy stating that doctors who refuse to participate in killing a patient “must comply” with previous policy, which states that such doctors must make “an effective referral to another health-care provider.” The move came seven months after Canada’s highest court struck down the ban against euthanasia and assisted suicide, ruling that doctors can actively participate in bringing about the deaths of their patients.
Last week the federal Liberal government introduced Bill C-14 to govern the practice of euthanasia. Despite the Liberal health minister’s assurance that “no health care provider will be required to provide medical assistance in dying,” critics say the law offers no conscience protections for medical practitioners.
Dr. Naylor explained her decision in response to an article — also in the Canadian Family Physician — by Dr. Stephen Genuis, who wrote earlier this month of what he called an “emerging assault on freedom of conscience” with the legalization of doctor-abetted death.
“Most doctors agree that physicians should never do what they believe is morally wrong, no matter what alleged experts say. Yet, some governments, human rights commissions (HRCs), and medical regulators have begun to question whether refusal to participate in legal medical interventions might be unacceptable,” he wrote.
“Compelling doctors to do what they believe is morally wrong or reprehensible is a formula for the breakdown of character and has enormous individual and societal consequences. As the steamroller to subordinate individual liberty and autonomy in the medical community has arrived, physicians should seriously consider the implications of surrendering the sacrosanct physician-patient relationship to the purview of political and regulatory masters,” he added.
Sean Murphy, administrator of the Canada-based Protection of Conscience Project, said that Dr. Naylor may be the first of many who feel forced to let go of what they do best rather than compromise on moral convictions.
“Moral imperialism by state authorities in Canada is beginning to take its toll,” he told LifeSiteNews.