Conscience Project critiques Ontario Physicians College euthanasia/assisted suicide policy

Referral, urgent situations, death certificates, criminal law

News Release

For immediate release

Protection of Conscience Project

Conscience Project critiques Ontario Physicians College euthanasia/assisted suicide policy

Powell River, BC. (28 April, 2021) The 2019 decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal supporting the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario was not the last word on the subject of physician freedom of conscience.

That message was delivered to the College by the Protection of Conscience Project in a submission responding to the College’s request for public feedback on its policy, Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD). The submission focuses primarily on the College demand that physicians unwilling to provide euthanasia or assisted suicide (EAS) for reasons of conscience provide an “effective referral”: that is, connect the patient directly with someone willing to provide a lethal injection or assist with suicide.

The submission on MAiD addresses three points unique to euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Conflicts in urgent situations: If a patient is approved for EAS at some future date, a sudden deterioration of the patient’s condition may cause the patient to ask for immediate relief by EAS. In the absence of an EAS practitioner, other practitioners may be willing to alleviate the patient’s distress by palliative interventions, but not to provide EAS. The Project suggests how this conflict can be avoided.

Falsifying death certificates: Falsification of death certificates is contrary to accepted international standards and can be considered deceptive, unethical or professionally ill-advised. The Project suggests how EAS practitioners unwilling to falsify death certificates can be accommodated by the College and Office of the Chief Coroner even if current government policy does not change.

Criminal law limits on College policy: The Project’s position is that the College cannot proceed against practitioners who, having the opinion that a patient is not eligible for EAS, refuse to do anything that would entail criminal responsibility for homicide/assisted suicide, including “effective referral.” Further, to advise or attempt to coerce them to present EAS as treatment options or to participate by effective referral would seem to be a criminal offence. Finally, since counselling suicide remains a criminal offence, it appears that practitioners cannot be compelled to present assisted suicide or MaiD as treatment options unless a patient has expressed an interest in the services.

The College’s clarification that it does not require objecting practitioners to personally kill their patients is welcome. However, the Project’s position is that this ought to be the norm in a democratic society, not a “concession”or an element in the “accommodation” of freedom of conscience.

While the submission includes specific policy recommendations within the existing MAiD policy framework, it recommends that the College adopt a single protection of conscience policy in line with “the basic theory” of the Canadian Charter of Rights affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada and consistent with rational moral pluralism. Such a generally applicable policy is included in the simultaneous Project submission to the College on Professional Obligations and Human Rights.

Public consultations on Professional Obligations and Human Rights [Consultation Page] and Medical Assistance in Dying [Consultation Page] are open until 14 May, 2021.

Contact: Sean Murphy,
Administrator, Protection of Conscience Project
protection@consciencelaws.org

Ontario College of Physicians policy challenged

Forcing physicians out of Covid fight not in public interest

News Release

For immediate release

Protection of Conscience Project

Ontario College of Physicians policy challenged

Powell River, B.C. (28 April, 2021) The 2019 decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal supporting the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario was not the last word on the subject of physician freedom of conscience.

That message was delivered to the College by the Protection of Conscience Project in a submission responding to the College’s request for public feedback on its policy, Professional Obligations and Human Rights (POHR).

The submission includes a cautionary note about the potential implications of human rights law for practitioners providing euthanasia and assisted suicide. However, the primary focus is on the College demand that physicians unwilling to provide a service or procedure for reasons of conscience provide an “effective referral”: that is, connect the patient directly with someone willing to do what they consider immoral/unethical.

Practitioners who object to providing a service typically provide information and work cooperatively with patients and others in relation to patient access to services. While willing to respectfully cooperate, they are unwilling to collaborate by doing something that makes them a party to what they consider wrongful and/or harmful. The distinctions between providing information vs. providing a service and between cooperation vs. collaboration enable an approach that accommodates both patients and practitioners, argues the Project.

However, the College is clearly confused about such critical distinctions. Citing College policy and reasoning, the submission states, “the College’s assertion that effective referral for euthanasia/assisted suicide does not ‘signal’ endorsement or support for the procedures [Advice:MAiD] is either disingenuous or the product of badly muddled wishful thinking.”

“The College does not even correctly apply its own definition of effective referral in its companion policy document,” observes Sean Murphy, Administrator of the Project.

According to the College, physicians unwilling to comply with its effective referral policy should restrict their practices to specialties like hair restoration.[1] This would force all objecting physicians out of general practice.

“To put it in a currently relevant perspective,” says Murphy, “the College would have them terminate all Covid 19 pandemic activities and take up podiatry or aviation medicine. This is hardly consistent with ensuring access to health care or protecting the public interest.”

The Project recommends that the College adopt a single protection of conscience policy in line with “the basic theory” of the Canadian Charter of Rights affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada and consistent with rational moral pluralism. The submission includes a such general policy, drawing on policy documents from the Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Nurses’ Association, Catholic Health Association of Canada and the Canadian Medical Protective Association.

The Protection of Conscience Project has also made a submission about College’s policy on euthanasia and assisted suicide, Medical Assistance in Dying. Public consultations on Professional Obligations and Human Rights [Consultation Page] and Medical Assistance in Dying [Consultation Page] are open until 14 May, 2021.

Notes

  1. Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada v. College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, 2019 ONCA 393 (CanLII) at para 184.

Contact: Sean Murphy,
Administrator, Protection of Conscience Project
protection@consciencelaws.org

Kildare GP linked illness to wearing facemask, High Court told

Kildare Nationalist

A Co Kildare GP who was suspended by the Medical Council after he failed to refer patients for Covid-19 tests is alleged to have told a patient with chest complaints that his symptoms were caused by his facemask, a High Court judgment shows.

Last month Ms Justice Mary Irvine granted an application by the Medical Council to suspend Dr Gerard Waters, a GP at the Whitethorn Clinic in Celbridge, following allegations surrounding the Covid-19 vaccine and adherence to public health measures.

The High Court published its judgment in full on Thursday following a further application by the Medical Council.

The judgment shows Dr Waters refused to administer Covid-19 vaccines on the basis he was a “conscientious objector”, but that he did not take steps to refer patients to other doctors. . . continue reading

The Battle for Conscience Rights Rages On

National Catholic Register

Michael Warsaw

In February 2012, EWTN filed the first of its legal challenges against the Obama administration’s so-called “HHS mandate,” which would have forced organizations like EWTN and the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide contraception, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization procedures as part of our employer-sponsored health-care plans. For EWTN, that legal battle went on for nearly seven years — and for the Little Sisters, even longer. At the heart of that fight was whether or not the government could force faith-based organizations to act contrary to their deeply held religious values and in violation of their conscience.

More than nine years later, the issue of conscience rights is again taking center stage in our national discussions as the Biden administration continues to ramp up its promotion of tax-funded abortion and “gender-transition” medical treatments.

Earlier in March, the Senate confirmed Xavier Becerra, a Catholic who dissents openly from the Church’s foundational moral teachings regarding the sanctity of human life and sexuality, as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. As attorney general of California, Becerra infamously filed suit to take away the religious exemptions protecting the Little Sisters of the Poor from the provisions of the HHS mandate. 

The Senate also confirmed Dr. Rachel Levine, a biological man who identifies as a transgender woman, as assistant secretary of the HHS. 

With these two officials at the helm, the HHS is certain to rapidly accelerate the Biden administration’s radical agenda of tax-funded abortion and mandatory gender-reassignment treatments, including for children and teens. . . continue reading

Arkansas gov. signs law to protect the religious conscience of healthcare providers

The Christian Post

Emily Wood

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed legislation Friday to provide conscience protections for the religious objections of healthcare providers, payers and institutions.

Sponsored by Sen. Kim Hammer and Rep. Brandt Smith, both Republicans, “The Medical Ethics and Diversity Act,” S.B. 289, will protect medical professionals from providing services that go against their moral, religious or ethical beliefs, such as performing abortions or sex-change surgeries.

Hutchinson said in a statement that he “weighed this bill very carefully” before signing. 

The governor originally opposed the legislation in the 2017 legislative session until it was changed to ensure the ability to exercise the right of conscience is limited to “conscience-based objections to a particular health care service.” . . . continue reading