Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code
Ontario Human Rights Commission attempts to suppress freedom of
conscience (August-September, 2008)
Physicians: Act on your convictions
Reproduced with permission
The Ontario Human Rights Commission is truly evil. By threatening to
prosecute physicians under the Ontario Human Rights Code for refusing to
participate in an abortion on demand, it has perpetrated one of the worst
attacks on the right to conscience of physicians since Arthur Seyss-Inquart,
Reich Commissar for the occupied Netherlands, tried to compel Dutch
physicians to take part in the Nazi euthanasia program for the "useless,
Consider the evidence: in a submission to the College of Physicians and
Surgeons of Ontario on February 14, the Ontario Human Rights Commission
specifically warned: "A physician's denial of services or refusal to provide
a woman with information relating to contraception or abortion, for example,
would be discriminatory based on sex, as only women can become pregnant."
The implications of this threat are clear: in the opinion of the
Commission, it is an offence under the Ontario Human Rights Code not only
for obstetricians to refuse to perform an abortion, but also for a family
practitioner to refuse to help a woman to obtain an abortion, by referring
her to a willing abortionist.
In effect, the Ontario Human Rights Commission has outlawed compliance
with the Hippocratic Oath. Physicians who have taken this oath will no
longer be allowed in Ontario to stand by their sacrosanct promise: "I will
neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a
suggestion to this effect. Similarly, I will not give to a woman an abortive
remedy. In purity and beneficence, I will guard my life and my art."
And let there be no mistaking: this crisis is not confined to Ontario.
Physicians in all provinces with a human rights code banning discrimination
on the basis of sex could be hauled before a human rights tribunal for
refusing on principle to participate in an abortion.
It is commonly supposed that the Supreme Court of Canada would surely
strike down any ruling by a human rights tribunal that censures a pro-life
physician for refusing on moral or religious grounds to commit an abortion.
But alas, such an outcome is far from certain.
Notwithstanding the ostensible guarantee of freedom of conscience and
religion in section 2(a) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the
Supreme Court of Canada ordained in Trinity Western that while teachers are
free to believe and to proclaim in Church that same-sex sexual relations are
sinful, they are not free as teachers to act on that belief. The Court
explained: "The freedom to hold beliefs is broader than the freedom to act
on them…. Discriminatory conduct by a public school teacher when on duty
should always be subject to disciplinary proceedings."
The Ontario Human Rights Commission insists that the same rule applies to
physicians: they are free to believe that abortion is an evil that can never
be justified; but they are not free to act on that belief by refusing to
participate in an abortion at the request of a patient.
Seyss-Inquart likewise insisted that Dutch physicians had no right in
conscience to refuse to participate in the Nazi euthanasia program. The
great majority of Dutch physicians defied his order. By the summer of 1941,
most had formally resigned from the collaborationist Dutch medical
association, but continued to treat patients in private. Seyss-Inquart
placed several hundred under arrest, but still these principled physicians
refused to capitulate.
In the end, it was Seyss-Inquart who relented. To the everlasting credit
of the Dutch physicians under Nazi occupation, no one participated in
Pro-life physicians in Canada should display similar resolve. Instead of
just firing off letters of protest to the Ontario Human Rights Commission
and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, they should pledge
that they, too, would formally resign from the profession, while continuing
to treat patients in private, rather than capitulate to the grossly unjust
order of a human rights tribunal to participate in abortion on demand.
And the rest of us should avow to do whatever we can -- even at the risk
of financial ruin and jail -- to support any physician who has the courage
to take such a principled stance in defence of the sanctity of human life.