How to be an Odd Doc Without Getting Your Goose Cooked

Dan Reilly

A presentation at a medical students’ forum hosted by Canadian Physicians for Life.

2:38 – 4:12  Ethical disputes: disagreeing about an “ought”

4:12 –  11:22  World views: dominant culture, ethics, law, decision making processes, religion, society, culture, experience, philosophy

11:22 – 13:58  The patient wants what you will not provide: ct scan, antibiotics, opioids, abortion, life support, contraception, pre-natal genetic tests, CPR, plastic surgery, elective C-sections, elective induction of labour

13:58 – 1834  fiduciary duty, patient access, moral distress

18:34 – 19:43  When patient asks for what you would like to provide, but can’t

19:43 –  21:44  When professional consensus is that you should say no

21:44 – 25:22  When physicians differ on what fiduciary duty dictates: full information, no abandonment

25:22 – 27:18  In some jursidictions, when refusing on moral grounds, in emergencies – provide service; otherwise- effective referral

27:18 –  32:55 Odd Docs and patients: why disputes arise, best practices: communication, compassion, care, honesty

32:55 – 36:24  Odd Docs and administrators: communication, compassion, do other work

Nova Scotia: make a call for conscience

Nova Scotia Call for Conscience 2018

Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience

Over recent months, it has become increasingly clear that the conscience rights of Nova Scotia doctors are not being adequately protected.

A leading Nova Scotia medical regulator recently told doctors they must participate in euthanasia by making an “effective referral” even if this would require them to violate their conscience. It was made clear that the penalty for refusing to comply could be discipline for “unprofessional conduct”. Performing or referring for assisted suicide and euthanasia involve killing a patient. This is directly opposed to the teachings of many faiths and the traditional Hippocratic oath. Most health care professionals embarked on their careers to heal people, not kill them. No Nova Scotian should be required to be involved against their will.

Other provinces have found ways to provide access without forcing people to act against their moral convictions.

We need to let the Minister of Health of Nova Scotia know that we need legislation to protect conscience rights in our province. In November, Manitoba legislators passed a Bill which said that Manitoba health care professionals could not be compelled to participate in assisted suicide. We need a similar bill here in Nova Scotia. Please write the Minister of Health using the form below. The letter will automatically be sent to the Premier and the leaders of the opposition parties. Conscience rights are an all party issue. We need our legislators to show their support for Nova Scotia health care professionals.

Take action here. Write to the Government of Nova Scotia.

Answering Physicians Top 5 Legal Questions

In 2017, the medical students’ forum hosted by Canadian Physicians for Life included a question and answer session about legal issues. Albertos Polizogopoulos is lead counsel in the constitutional challenge to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) policy that demands effective referral for all morally contested services, including euthanasia and assisted suicide.  Phil Horgan, a Toronto lawyer, is President of the Catholic Civil Rights League, which jointly intervened in the case with the Faith and Freedom Alliance and Protection of Conscience Project.  Questions have been listed below with the corresponding time segments.  Links have been provided to background material concerning subjects covered in the answers.

1. How can physicians best disclose to their patients their conscientious objections?  (00:00-11:18)

2. What happens when a patient reports a physician to their college for exercising their right to conscientious objection?  (11:18-20:00)

3. How can conscience and religious rights be exercised, practically speaking?  (20:00-23:33)

4. Is there a sense that other provinces are just waiting to see what is going to happen with these current cases going on in Ontario? (23:33-34:35)

5. Can you comment on institutions?  Do they have rights themselves?   (34:45-40:15)

Ontario: make a call for conscience

Ontario Call for Conscience 2018

Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience

The Problem

Assisted suicide has been legal in Canada since June 2016. Discussions are already taking place to  expand the criteria to minors, people with psychiatric illness and those with dementia. This puts people  who are lonely and isolated at risk of choosing euthanasia simply because they don’t have anyone  who cares and can give them hope.

Today in Ontario:

  • Physicians and other caregivers are forced to  participate in euthanasia against their will, by referring their patients.
  • Pro-euthanasia groups are threatening to sue faith based hospitals unless they allow  euthanasia on the premises.
  • Only a third of the population has access to adequate palliative care, so they are being  denied real choice on end of life issues.

This places physicians, nurses and other health  professionals in an impossible situation – assist in  the killing of their patients or lose the ability to care for patients at all.

This is happening despite constitutional protections for freedom of conscience and religion in the Charter  of Rights and Freedoms (s.2).

The Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience  represents more than 110 healthcare facilities (with  almost 18,000 care beds and 60,000 staff) and more than 5,000 physicians across Canada. Our members are unable to participate in taking a patient’s life due to moral or ethical convictions.

The Solution

The Ontario legislature has the power to protect conscience rights for individuals and facilities and to provide adequate palliative care and mental health services so that people will not see assisted suicide as their only option. Our efforts in Manitoba helped to ensure the province passed conscience protection legislation in November 2017.

In advance of the June 2018 provincial election in Ontario, we have the opportunity to ask candidates from all parties three important questions:

  1. Will you support legislation to protect doctors, nurses and other health care providers who are being forced to participate in assisted suicide/euthanasia through making a referral?
  2. How will you protect facilities from being forced to offer euthanasia/assisted suicide on their premises?
  3. How does your party plan to address the lack of quality palliative care in our province?

To get involved, please participate in your Church’s Sign Up Sunday. We will be collecting contact information to help mobilize a large database of people to contact candidates for the 2018 Ontario provincial election.

[Leaflet]

For more information, visit www.canadiansforconscience.ca

Objecting nurse describes coerced participation in abortion

Cathy Cenzon-Decarlo

A nurse formerly employed at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York describes being coerced to participate in abortion. The story illustrates the need for protection of conscience legislation and policies as well as the kind of experience that can cause health care workers to refuse to participate in abortion for reasons of conscience.

Open letter to all the Members of Provincial Parliament of Ontario on conscience rights

News Release

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

An open letter has been sent to the members of Ontario’s Provincial Parliament by His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, together with a number of other religious leaders, asking the Government of Ontario to enshrine into law the protection of conscience rights for health-care practitioners in Ontario who refuse to participate in the administering of euthanasia. The open letter was released on 27 March 2017 with respect to provincial Bill 84 (Medical Assistance in Dying Statute Law Amendment Act). The Coalition of HealthCARE and Conscience have also developed a resource which explains the current problem with Ontario’s proposed euthanasia legislation and the lack of conscience protection rights.

The Ontario Government’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs held a public hearing on this matter this past 23 March. Cardinal Collins, the Most Reverend Ronald P. Fabbro, Bishop of London and President of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario, and Dr. Moira McQueen, Director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, were present during the hearing and provided an oral presentation advocating for conscience rights. Several doctors and nurses were also present advocating for legislation to protect conscience rights.

The Archdiocese of Toronto released a video today of Cardinal Collins explaining the moral issues at hand in relation to conscience rights in Ontario and Bill 84.


Link to the resource by the Coalition of HealthCARE and
Conscience (PDF)

Join the Call for Conscience Campaign February 6 – March 31, 2017

Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience

Take Action – Join the Call for Conscience Campaign

February 6  to March 31, 2017

We need your help now to change policies in many provinces, most urgently in Ontario, where Bill 84 (Medical Assistance in Dying Statute Law Amendment Act) was introduced on December 7, 2016.

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Sign up to join the Call for Conscience today!