Ontario court rules doctors who oppose assisted death must refer patients

The Globe and Mail

Sean Fine

In the first Canadian test of conscience rights for doctors who oppose assisted death, an Ontario court has upheld regulations requiring the objectors to refer their patients to physicians willing to perform the procedure.

Groups representing 4,700 Christian doctors had challenged Ontario’s regulations requiring the referrals, saying that making such a referral was morally equivalent to participating in an assisted death.

But Ontario’s Divisional Court said the referral rule was a reasonable limit on doctors’ freedom of religion because it protects vulnerable patients from harm. And those patients, it said, have a constitutional right to equitable access to publicly funded health care.

Without the policy of “effective referral,” equitable access would be “compromised or sacrificed, in a variety of circumstances, more often than not involving vulnerable members of our society at the time of requesting services,” Justice Herman Wilton-Siegel wrote in the 3-0 ruling on Wednesday. . . [Full text]

Conscience rights protection amendments voted down

Catholic Register

Michael Swan

The majority Liberal government at Queen’s Park has crushed an opposition attempt to incorporate conscience protections for doctors in its legislation on assisted suicide.

The government majority on the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs voted down two versions of a Progressive Conservative amendment to Bill-84 that would have removed the threat of license suspensions and other disciplinary actions against doctors who refuse to make an “effective referral” for medical assistance in dying (MAID).

New Democratic Party representatives on the committee abstained on the issue. . . [Full text]

 

Amendments to protect conscience rights on the table

The Catholic Register

Michael Swan

Amendments to a government bill have been forward that would protect Ontario’s doctors and nurses who, for reasons of conscience, cannot refer for medical assistance in dying (MAID).

Conscience rights for doctors are coming up for a vote at Queen’s Park as amendments to Bill-84 which smooths the way for voluntary euthanasia makes its way through committee towards its final reading in the legislature.

Progressive Conservative health critic Jeff Yurek has put forward two versions of an amendment that would protect doctors and nurses who will not refer for MAID. The Yurek amendments protect medical professionals both from civil liability and from disciplinary action by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. . . [Full text]

 

Ontario’s legislators under ‘tremendous pressure’ to amend Bill-84

The Catholic Register

Michael Swan

With more than 22,000 emails and letters in their in-boxes, Ontario legislators have rarely been under as much pressure to amend a bill as they have been over conscience rights for doctors in Bill-84.

In response, Ontario Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins has promised to have a “care co-ordination service” up and running as early as May. . .

However, Hoskins and the Liberals have so far avoided saying they would override the policy of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario which requires doctors to refer for medically assisted death even against their moral, religious and ethical convictions. . . [Full text]

 

Dr. Coelho’s ‘crazy’ battle for conscience rights

The Catholic Register

Michael Swan

It’s not surprising patients fall in love with Dr. Ramona Coelho. Not just because she’s a young, pretty doctor who smiles easily, laughs frequently and focuses her attention completely on whoever is talking to her.

Her patients in London, Ont., know that she’s a doctor who is in it for something more than the status, money or security attached to most medical practices.

“I love my work,” Coelho confesses. “I love being a doctor. I love helping people and being with them — trying to find solutions for them.”

Her practice is heavily slanted to marginalized patients. Her waiting room is full of refugees, ex-cons, the poor. Many of her patients are on permanent disability. . . . [Full text]