Submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Freedom of Conscience in Abortion Provision (United Kingdom)

. . . 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

Lettre aux Députés et Sénateurs, Parlement du Canada

Re: Loi C-14 (aide médicale à mourir)

[Adressées individuellement]

Au nom de notre organisation, le Projet pour la Protection de la Conscience, je vous écris au sujet du projet de loi C-14. Notre organisation était un intervenant dans l’affaire Carter à la Cour suprême du Canada. On ne prend pas de position sur l’acceptabilité de l’euthanasie ou le suicide assisté.

Notre organisation a présenté un mémoire au Comité permanent de la justice et des droits avant la date limite, mais (parmi plusieurs d’autres) il n’a pas été distribué aux membres du Comité avant qu’ils ont conclu leurs délibérations. Compte tenu de cela, le temps alloué et de la gravité du sujet, il a été décidé d’écrire directement aux députés et aux sénateurs.

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. . .


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)

[Individually addressed]

On behalf of the Protection of Conscience Project I am writing to you concerning Bill C-14. The Project was an intervener in the Carter case at the Supreme Court of Canada. It does not take a position on the acceptability of euthanasia or assisted suicide.

The Project submitted a brief to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights by the deadline, but (like many others) it was not distributed to Committee members before they concluded their deliberations. In view of this, the time constraints and the serious nature of the subject, it was decided to write directly to Members of Parliament and Senators.

. . . 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

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)

I.    Introduction
I.1     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.

I.2    The arguments supporting this submission are more fully set out in the Project’s submission to the parliamentary Special Joint Committee.

II.    Coerced complicity in homicide and suicide
II.1     Carter should not be understood to mean that a learned or privileged class, a profession or state institutions can legitimately compel people to be parties to homicide or suicide – and punish them if they refuse.

II.2     This is not a reasonable limitation of fundamental freedoms, but a reprehensible attack on them and a serious violation of human dignity.  From an ethical perspective, it is incoherent.  From a legal and civil liberties perspective, it is profoundly dangerous.

II.3     Other countries have demonstrated that it is possible to provide euthanasia and physician assisted suicide without suppressing fundamental freedoms.  None of them require “effective referral,” physician-initiated “direct transfer” or otherwise conscript objecting physicians into euthanasia/assisted suicide service.

III.    Criminal legislation
III.1     By virtue of the subject matter of Bill C-14 (homicide and suicide), the federal government has jurisdiction in criminal law.

III.2     The use of criminal law is justified to prevent and to punish particularly egregious violations of fundamental freedoms that also present a serious threat to society, such as unlawful electronic surveillance, unlawful confinement and torture.

III.3     Coercion, intimidation or other forms of pressure intended to force citizens to become parties to homicide or suicide is both an egregious violation of fundamental freedoms and a serious threat to society that justifies the use of criminal law.  For this reason, the Project proposes an amendment to Bill C-14, set out in Appendix “A.”

III.4      The proposed amendment is an addition that does not otherwise change the text of  Bill C-14. Nor does it touch the eligibility criteria proposed by Carter, nor the criteria or procedural safeguards recommended by the Special Joint Committee or Provincial-Territorial Expert Advisory Group.  It simply establishes 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.

Appendix “A” – Proposed Amendment

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.

The Project offers simple and uncontroversial recommendations to avoid conflicts of conscience associated with failed assisted suicide and euthanasia attempts and urgent situations.

The standard does not adequately address the continuing effects of criminal law. The College has no basis to proceed against physicians who, having the opinion that a patient does not fit one of the criteria specified by Carter, refuse to do anything that would entail complicity in homicide or suicide. College policies and expectations are of no force and effect to the extent that they are inconsistent with criminal prohibitions.

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.


I.    Outline of the submission

II.    Avoiding foreseeable conflicts

II.1    Failed assisted suicide and euthanasia
II.2    Urgent situations
II.3    Project recommendations

III.    SPPAD and criminal law

IV.    Remarks of the Registrar

IV.1    The Registrar before the Special Joint Committee on Physician Assisted Dying
IV.2    The Registrar, the Conscience Research Group, and “effective referral”
IV.3    The Registrar’s intentions
IV.4    The Registrar’s complaint
IV.5    An ethic of servitude, not service

V.    Conclusion

Appendix “A”    Supreme Court of Canada, Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 5

A1.    Carter criteria for euthanasia and physician assisted suicide
A2.    Carter and the criminal law
A3.    Carter and freedom of conscience and religion

Appendix “B”    Conscience Research Group

B1.    Attempts to coerce physicians: abortion
B2.    Plans to coerce physicians: assisted suicide and euthanasia
B3.   Plans to coerce physicians: the CRG Model Policy
B4.    CRG convenes meeting with College representatives