Christian Medical and Dental Society
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.
Authorities should bar doctors from refusing to provide such services as abortion and assisted death on moral grounds, and screen out potential medical students who might impose their values on patients, leading Canadian and British bioethicists argue in a provocative new commentary.
The paper by professors at Queen’s and Oxford universities, who are also editors of two major bioethics journals, throws rocket fuel onto a debate already inflamed by the new law allowing assisted death.
They argue that physicians have no right to opt out of lawful medical services — from abortion to prescribing contraceptives — that are requested by a patient and in the person’s interest.
Those who let conscientious objection affect patient care are clearly unprofessional, say Udo Schuklenk and Julian Savulescu.
“Doctors must put patients’ interests ahead of their own integrity,” they write in the journal Bioethics. . . [Full text]
Christian Medical and Dental Society prefers ‘total transfer of care’ to other doctors in such cases
The head of the Christian doctors’ group that met recently with Manitoba’s health minister says doctors with religious or moral objections to physician-assisted dying should not be forced to issue referrals to patients but instead allow patients to switch doctors altogether.
The Christian Medical and Dental Society met with Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen on July 11 to lobby for conscience protection for doctors who object to physician-assisted death.
The group is also asking Ontario’s top court to reverse a provincial government policy requiring physicians to refer patients who want an assisted death to another doctor. . . [Full text]
With no law in place to govern assisted suicide, physicians and vulnerable patients face uncertainty, confusion and more opinions than facts.
“It’s a matter of weeks before people (in healthcare) are going to have to choose between their conscience and their career,” said Deacon Larry Worthen, executive director of the Christian Medical and Dental Society.
Doctors have told Worthen that some hospitals have already put in place procedures and protocols for doctor-assisted death. Some hospitals will force objecting doctors to refer for assisted suicide, even though, said Worthen, “our physicians are just unable to refer” for reasons of conscience.
Worthen and the doctors he represents want Bill C-14 passed, but they also want the Senate to add specific conscience protections for objecting doctors and health-care institutions.
“We’re pleased with what’s there, but we want to be more specific,” he said. “We want to protect facilities. We want to protect against the requirement to refer.” . . . [Full Text]
OTTAWA – An amendment to Canada’s proposed assisted suicide legislation fails to go far enough to protect conscience rights and religious freedom, say several opponents.
The Justice Committee voted to amend Bill C-14 to add a clause that says no one should be compelled to participate in euthanasia and assisted suicide. But Conservative MPs, medical and legal representatives want further amendments before Bill C-14 becomes law, expected by June 6.
The committee added a clause May 11 that says: “For greater certainty, nothing in this section compels an individual to provide or assist in providing medical assistance in dying.” It also amended the preamble to stipulate that the bill recognizes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees regarding freedom of conscience and religion.
But the bill still fails to provide protection for institutions that refuse to participate in assisted suicide or address the issue of referrals. . .[Full Text]
For Immediate Distribution
Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience
OTTAWA, ONT. (April 14, 2016) – The Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience recognizes that federal legislation tabled today on physician-assisted death has rejected disturbing recommendations from the parliamentary joint committee regarding access to assisted suicide.
However, the coalition, which represents more than 100 healthcare facilities (with almost 18,000 care beds and 60,000 staff) and more than 5,000 physicians across Canada, is concerned that the bill doesn’t protect the conscience rights of health care workers or facilities that morally object to performing or referring for what is being referred to as “medically assisted death.”
By making no reference to conscience rights in the legislation, it appears that the federal government intends to leave it up to individual provincial and territorial governments to determine whether to protect health care workers and institutions and how to do so.
“No other foreign jurisdiction in the world that has legalized euthanasia/assisted suicide forces health care workers, hospitals, nursing homes or hospices to act against their conscience or mission and values,” says Larry Worthen, Coalition member and Executive Director of the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada. “These conscience rights must be preserved. As we review this legislation, we will continue to advocate for the vulnerable and for conscience protection, which is provided in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
A strong majority of Canadians are on side with the coalition’s beliefs on conscience protection. A recent Nanos Research poll found that 75% of Canadians agreed that doctors “should be able to opt out of offering assisted dying,” compared with 21% who disagreed.
Members of the coalition fully support the right people clearly have to accept, to refuse and/ or discontinue the use of life-sustaining treatment and to allow death to occur. They also hold strong moral convictions that it is never justified for a physician to help take a patient’s life, under any circumstances.
“Our health care workers journey with those who are sick and suffering each day. We will continue to do this in a caring and compassionate way,” Worthen says. “We help patients at the end of life, what we object to is ending their life.”
The coalition contends Canada can significantly reduce the number of people who see death as the only possible option to end their suffering by improving medical and social services.
“Our worth as a society is measured by the support we give to the vulnerable,” said says Worthen. “We need increased access to palliative care, chronic disease and mental health services to help individuals who are suffering across the country.”
The coalition continues to urge Canadians with concerns about assisted suicide legislation to visit CanadiansforConscience.ca where they can communicate directly with their elected members of provincial or federal parliament.
The coalition represents several like-minded organizations committed to protecting conscience rights for health practitioners and institutions. Members of the coalition include the Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto, the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada, the Catholic Organization for Life and Family, the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians’ Societies, the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, Canadian Physicians for Life and the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada.
For more information, please contact:
Media Relations, Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience
About The Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience:
The Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience represents a group of like-minded organizations, including representing more than 110 healthcare facilities (with almost 18,000 care beds and 60,000 staff) and more than 5,000 physicians across Canada , that are committed to protecting conscience rights for faith-based health practitioners and facilities. We were brought together by a common mission to respect the sanctity of human life, to protect the vulnerable and to promote the ability of individuals and institutions to provide health care without having to compromise their moral convictions.
To learn more, visit CanadiansforConscience.ca
The Globe and Mail
The competing rights of freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and access to physician-assisted death are at an impasse in Canada. When the Supreme Court last year struck down Criminal Code prohibitions on doctor-assisted death, the issue of conscience rights jumped urgently into the national discussion. A religiously informed conscience complicates things further, and thousands of health-care professionals and hundreds of religiously based health-care institutions are demanding that their Charter rights be protected.
If the recommendations from the parliamentary committee for new legislation are accepted and approved by the June 6 deadline, Canada would be by far the most liberal country in the world for medical assistance in dying. It would also become the most repressive on conscience rights, because the committee recommended that conscientious objectors refer death-seeking patients to another doctor or health-care facility – something that many people informed by a sense of duty to God and neighbour cannot do. . . [Full text]
A Christian physician organisation, which represents several thousand Christian physicians in Canada, is sounding an alarm about the implications of a new bill that when passed, will forced them to perform legalised euthanasia, which could violate their conscience rights.
In February 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the law against assisted suicide, ruling that it was a breach of an individual’s Charter rights. The court gave the federal government one year to pass a new legislation but recently extended the deadline to June. . . [Full text]