Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons accommodates Christian
Barrie, Ontario, Canada (22 August, 2002)
The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons has accepted a suggestion
from Dr. Stephen Dawson that has resolved complaints lodged against him. Dr.
Dawson, a Christian physician who practises in Barrie, Ontario, was charged
for professional misconduct because he refused to prescribe birth control
pills to four unmarried women.
Dr. Dawson now posts a
policy statement in his waiting room that includes a statement that he
will not prescribe birth control pills to unmarried women nor Viagra to
unmarried men, nor will he arrange for abortions. He will not offer further
information about his religious convictions except in response to queries
The resolution reflects the fact that there were two different issues at
play in the case: the exercise of freedom of conscience, and the manner in
which it was exercised. College spokesman Kathryn Clarke explained that the
focus of the College was on the latter. "We simply wish to be assured that
when he explains to his patients why he does not provide these services that
he does so in a professional and respectful manner."
Dr. John Williams, director of ethics for the Canadian Medical
Association, confirmed that physicians are not obliged "to do something that
they feel is wrong", and do not have to refer patients in such cases. Dr.
Williams made a similar statement in conversation with the Project
Administrator in the spring of 2000.