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Protection of Conscience Project

www.consciencelaws.org

Service, not Servitude
Project Publications

Project Submissions


2016

Submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Freedom of Conscience in Abortion Provision (11 July, 2016)

  • . . . Abortion has developed technologically and now includes medical and surgical methods, but, generally speaking, remains the deliberate killing of a developing human individual at some point between implantation in the uterus and birth, either directly or by premature delivery intended to cause death. The moral arguments against abortion have been refined and somewhat expanded since 1967, but their focus is substantially unchanged. . .
    Project Submission

Letter to Members of Parliament and Senators, Parliament of Canada Re: Bill C-14 - An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying)

  • . . . Enclosed is the amendment to Bill C-14 proposed by the Project. Ironically, perhaps, what the Protection of Conscience proposes is not a protection of conscience amendment. . . .The proposed amendment would establish that, as a matter of law and national public policy, no one can be compelled to become a party to homicide or suicide, or punished or disadvantaged for refusing to do so. . .
    Project Letter

Lettre aux Députés et Sénateurs, Parlement du Canada
Re: Loi C-14 (aide médicale à mourir)

  • . . .Ci-joint l'amendement au projet de loi C-14 proposé par notre organisation. Ironiquement, nous ne proposons pas un amendement pour la protection de conscience . . .La modification proposée établirait que, en matière de droit et de la politique publique nationale, personne ne peut être obliger de devenir partie à l'homicide ou de suicide, ou puni ou défavorisé pour avoir refusé de le faire. . .
    Lettre

Submission to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights(Parliament of Canada)
Re: Bill C-14 - An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying)

  • The Protection of Conscience Project does not take a position on the acceptability of euthanasia or physician assisted suicide or the merits of legalization of the procedures. The Project's concern is to ensure that health care workers who object to providing or participating in homicide and suicide for reasons of conscience or religion are not compelled to do so or punished or disadvantaged for refusal.
    Project Submission

Submission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia
Re:
Standard of Practice: Physician Assisted Death

  • The Project considers the proposed standard of practice satisfactory with respect to the accommodation of physician freedom of conscience and respect for the moral integrity of physicians. Neither direct nor indirect participation in euthanasia and assisted suicide is required. . . While the standard is satisfactory with respect to freedom of conscience, the fundamental freedoms of physicians in Nova Scotia will remain at risk as long as the College Registrar and others persist in the attitude and intentions demonstrated in his presentation to the Special Joint Committee on Physician Assisted Dying.
    Project Submission

Submission to the Special Joint Committee on Physician Assisted Dying (Parliament of Canada)
31 January, 2016

  • The Protection of Conscience Project does not take a position on the acceptability of euthanasia or physician assisted suicide or the merits of legalization of the procedures. The Project's concern is to ensure that health care workers who object to providing or participating in homicide and suicide for reasons of conscience or religion are not compelled to do so or punished or disadvantaged for refusal.
    Project Submission

Présentation au Comité mixte spécial sur l'aide médicale à mourir (Parlement du Canada)
(31 janvier 2016)

  • Le Protection of Conscience Project ne se prononce pas sur l'acceptation de l'euthanasie ou de le suicide médicalement assisté, ni sur le bien-fondé de la légalisation de ces procédures. L'objectif du Protection of Conscience Project est de s'assurer que les travailleurs de la santé qui s'opposent à pratiquer des homicides et des suicides ou à y participer pour des raisons de conscience ou de religion ne sont pas obligés de le faire, ni punis ou désavantagés en cas de refus.
    Présentation

Submission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario

Re: Interim Guidance on Physician Assisted Death
10 January, 2016

  • Virtually all of what is proposed in Interim Guidance on Physician-Assisted Death (IGPAD) is satisfactory, requiring only clarifications to avoid misunderstanding and appropriate warnings concerning the continuing effects of criminal law. . .The College has no basis to proceed against physicians who refuse to do anything that would entail complicity in homicide or suicide, including "effective referral" because they believe that a patient does not fit the criteria specified by Carter. College policies and expectations are of no force and effect to the extent that they are inconsistent with criminal prohibitions.
    Project Submission


2015

Submission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba

Re:  Draft Statement on Physician Assisted Dying (15 October, 2015)
(10 November, 2015)

  • The Project finds the proposed policy concerning the exercise of physician freedom of conscience generally satisfactory.  Unfortunately, in its current form, the proposed policy could be understood to mean that objecting physicians cannot or should not discuss euthanasia and assisted suicide with patients.  This is inconsistent with recent advice from the College of Family Physicians, and it inadvertently introduces bias against objecting physicians.  However, this can easily be corrected by rewording the draft to bring it more closely into line with existing College policy on moral or religious beliefs.
    Project Submission

Submission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta

Re:  Physician-Assisted Dying Draft Guidance Document
(28 October, 2015)

  • The Project finds the proposed policy on conscientious objection generally satisfactory. Pursuant to Moral or Religious Beliefs Affecting Medical Care, it distinguishes between providing information (required) and facilitating access to morally contested procedure (not required). This preserves physician freedom of conscience and religion without interfering with patient access to services. The wisdom of this approach has become particularly obvious since the Carter ruling.
    Project Submission

Submission to the (Federal) External Panel

On Options for a Legislative Response to Carter v. Canada
(26 October, 2015)

  • I will first discuss terminology, the language I will be using, so as not to shock people. I will then explain the concept of freedom of conscience that informs the work of the Project. Next I will discuss the obligation to kill, which is related to failed euthanasia attempts and urgent requests for euthanasia or assisted suicide. I will then discuss eligibility criteria and key terms, which are issues that concern the panel. Much of my time will be spent on referral, and I will be relating referral to the risks to society, another of the panel's concerns, and to safeguards. I will offer examples of model policies.
    Project Submission

Submission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan

Re:  Physician-Assisted Dying Draft Guidance Document
(20 October, 2015)

  • The Project makes some cautionary observations concerning the provision of information (Part III), specific recommendations concerning informed decision-making (Part IV) and one of the proposed standards (Part V), and offers a policy to ensure protection of physician freedom of conscience that can be applied to euthanasia and assisted suicide as well as other morally contested procedures (Part VI).
    Project Submission

Submission to the Canadian Provincial/Territorial Expert Advisory Group on Physician-Assisted Dying

Re:  Implementation of Supreme Court of Canada ruling in Carter v. Canada
(23 September, 2015)

  • The Protection of Conscience Project is a non-profit, non-denominational initiative that advocates for freedom of conscience among health care workers. It does not take a position on the acceptability of morally contested procedures. For this reason, almost half of the questions in the Written Stakeholder Submission Form are outside the scope of the Project’s interests.
    Project Submission

Submission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan

Re:  Conscientious Objection
(7 August, 2015)

  • Abstract:

    Conscientious Objection is unacceptable because it attacks the character and competence of objecting physicians, and it nullifies their freedom of conscience by compelling them to arrange for patients to obtain services to which they object.

    Council has been given no evidence that anyone in Saskatchewan has ever been unable to access medical services or that the health of anyone in Saskatchewan has ever been adversely affected because a physician has declined to provide or refer for a procedure for reasons of conscience. In the absence of such evidence, the limits proposed in Conscientious Objection are neither reasonable nor demonstrably justified. . .
    Project Submission


Submission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan

Re:  Conscientious Objection
(5 June, 2015)

  • Abstract: Council has been given no evidence that anyone in Saskatchewan has ever been unable to access medical services or that the health of anyone in Saskatchewan has ever been adversely affected because a physician has declined to provide or refer for a procedure for reasons of conscience. 

    The conclusion that objecting physicians "should not be obligated to provide a referral to a physician who will ultimately potentially provide the service" is entirely satisfactory. It is a tacit admission that such a policy would be an unacceptable assault on freedom of conscience.

    Conscientious Refusal
    as revised attempts to nullify the alleged 'bias' of physicians who object to a procedure for reasons of conscience by requiring them to refer patients to a non-objecting colleague. This proposal is not sound . . .
    Project Submission

Submission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan

Re:  Conscientious Refusal
(5 March, 2015)

  • Abstract: The policy Conscientious Refusal requires all physicians who object to a procedure for reasons of conscience to facilitate the procedure by referring patients to a colleague who will provide it, even if it is homicide or suicide.  No evidence was provided to justify the policy.  None of the arguments provided to Council justify the policy, nor do the principles included in the text.

    Conscientious Refusal
    fails to recognize that the practice of medicine is a moral enterprise, that morality is a human enterprise, and that physicians, no less than patients, are moral agents. . .
    Project Submission

Submission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario

Re: Professional Obligations and Human Rights
(20 February, 2015)

  • Abstract: The focus of this submission about Professional Obligations and Human Rights (POHR) is its demand for "effective referral" - the demand that physicians do what they believe to be wrong - even gravely wrong - even arranging homicide or suicide - and the implied threat that they will be punished if they refuse.

This is a dangerous and extraordinarily authoritarian policy, completely at odds with liberal democratic aspirations and our national traditions. The burden of proof is on the working group to prove beyond doubt that it is justified and that no reasonable alternatives are available. The working group has not done so. . .
Project Submission


2014

Submission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario

Re: Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code
(3 August, 2014)

  • Background | The Ontario Human Rights Commission made a serious error in 2008 when it attempted to suppress freedom of conscience and religion in the medical profession on the grounds that physicians are "providers of secular public services." In its public perpetuation of this error, the Commission has contributed significantly to anti-religious sentiments and a climate of religious intolerance in Ontario. Both were on display earlier this year when it became front page news and a public scandal that three physicians had told their patients that they would not recommend, facilitate or do what they believed to be immoral, unethical, or harmful. . .
    Project Submission

2012

Submission to the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom

Re: Personal beliefs and medical practice: A draft for consultation (18 April-13 June, 2012)
(3 June, 2012)

  • Background | The General Medical Council is the state agency that regulates the medical profession in Britain.  A draft guideline on personal beliefs and medical practice generated concern that, if adopted, it would produce an "atmosphere of fear" among physicians who are religious believers.
    Project Submission

2010

Submission to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

Re: Women's access to lawful medical care: the problem of unregulated use of conscientious objection.
(6 October, 2010)

  • Background | On 7 October, 2010, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) considered a report recommending that freedom of conscience be denied to denominational health care facilities and, in large part, to medical practitioners.
    Project Submission

2009

Submission to the Alberta College of Pharmacists

Re: Draft Code of Ethics
(27 February, 2009)

  • Background | The Alberta College of Pharmacists is the statutory regulator of the profession.  The draft a revised code of ethics eliminated references to accommodation of freedom of conscience, suggesting that the revision was intendeded to force objecting pharmacists to enhance access to euthanasia, assisted suicide, post-coital interception, etc., and to compel them to assist the patient to obtain such services in a timeframe acceptable to the patient.
    Project Submission

2008

Submission to Department of Health and Human Services (USA)

Re: Draft Regulation: Ensuring that Department of Health and Human Services Funds Do Not Support Coercive or Discriminatory Policies or Practices In Violation of Federal Law.
(24 September, 2008)


Submission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta

Re: CPSA Draft Standards of Practice
(8 October, 2008)

  • Background | The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta is the statutory regulator of the medical profession.  Draft revisions to standards of practice were made available for public comment.  Some of the revisions appeared to suggest that objecting physicians might be expected to refer patients for morally contested procedures.
    Project Submission

Submission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario

Re: Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code
(11 September, 2008)


2002

Submission to the Select Special Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act Review Committee (Alberta)

(11 April, 2002)

  • Background | During 2000, a controversy arose because some pharmacists objected, for reasons of conscience, to involvement in dispensing potentially abortifacient drugs. Pharmacy regulatory authorities made statements and proposed policies that exerted a significant influence on the attitudes of pharmacists, employers, media, the public and government. As a result, the Protection of Conscience Project wrote to Canadian pharmacy regulators seeking information about the basis for their policies and statements.  The Alberta Pharmaceutical Association ignored requests from the Project, from some of its own members and from a member of the public.  The conduct of the College suggested the need to make self-governing professions subject to Alberta's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
    Project Submission

2001

Submission to the Minister of Health (Canada)

Re: Assisted Human Reproduction Act
(10 December, 2001)

  • Background | The Canadian federal government proposed draft legislation to control artifical reproductive technology and invited public comment.  The draft failed to include any reference to protection for health care workers and others who, for reasons of conscience, might object to participation in the defined controlled activities.
    Project Submission

2000

Submission to the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA) (Canada)

Re: A Model Code of Ethics for Canadian Pharmacists
(September, 2000)

  • Background | The National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA) is a national organization consisting of representatives from provincial pharmacy regulators.  It has no regulatory authority, but co-ordinates policy-making among Canadian pharmacy regulators.  In 2000, NAPRA proposed a Model Code of Ethics for Canadian Pharmacists and solicited comment.
    Project Submission

Submission to the Executive Council of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association

(19 September, 2000)

  • Background | Prompted by the hostility toward freedom of conscience demonstrated by the British Columbia College of Pharmacists, the Project made a submission on the subject of freedom of conscience in health care to the BC Civil Liberties Association.
    Project Submission

Submission to the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution (Ireland)

(19 June, 2000)

  • Background | In 2000, a parliamentary committee in Ireland held hearings into the possibilty of legalizing abortion in the country.  One of the physicians who testified stated that most obstetricians-gynaecologists would refuse to participate in the procedure.
    Project Submission

 

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