Nova Scotia medical regulator: unwilling physicians must collaborate in euthanasia and other controversial procedures

News Release

For Immediate Release

Protection of Conscience Project

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia (CPSNS) has adopted a new policy (Conscientious Objection) that will compel physicians unwilling to provide a service for reasons of conscience – including euthanasia – to help patients obtain the service elsewhere. The College adopted Conscientious Objection notwithstanding letters from at least 24 Nova Scotia physicians indicating that they would have to retire early or leave the province if the policy were ratified by the College Council.

The hostility of the CPSNS to physician freedom of conscience may reflect the College Registrar’s longstanding promotion of mandatory effective referral for abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide. Nova Scotians will not be well-served by morally partisan CPSNS standards likely to cause physicians to emigrate, retire, restrict their practices or leave family medicine or palliative care.

It is unacceptable to compel unwilling physicians to become parties to killing their patients or to other procedures they believe to be gravely wrong and/or contrary to good medical practice. The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has repeatedly gone on record against mandatory effective referral, and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta does not support it, contrary to what Conscientious Objection seems to imply by referencing these authorities.

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. The Project’s critical review of Conscientious Objection addresses issues directly or indirectly related to the protection of physician freedom of conscience, including:

Sean Murphy, Administrator,
Protection of Conscience Project

Dr. Iain Benson returns to the Project Advisory Board

News Release
For immediate release

Protection of Conscience Project

Dr. Iain Benson has returned to the Protection of Conscience Project Advisory Board. Dr. Benson was a member of the Board from early 2018 to the fall of 2022, when he stepped down due to other commitments. He is Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney (2016, ongoing) and
Extraordinary Professor of Law, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein South Africa (2009, ongoing).

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the father of seven children, Professor Benson is an academic, lecturer and practising lawyer specialising in pluralism and human rights.  His particular focus is on freedoms of association, conscience and religion, the nature of pluralism, multi-culturalism and relationships between law, religion and culture. He has been involved in many of the leading cases on rights of association, conscience and religion in Canada and abroad for two decades.  As a barrister he has appeared before all levels of court and his work has been cited by the Supreme Court of Canada and the Constitutional Court of South Africa.

He was one of the drafters of the South African Charter of Religious Rights and Freedoms (signed by all major religions in that country in September 2010) and remains closely involved in advancing the Charter in that country and similar projects elsewhere. He was Special Rapporteur on Law and Religion in Canada and South Africa to the Pontifical Academy of the Social Sciences, Vatican City ( May, 2011, pub’d in Acad. Proceedings, 2012).

Author of over 40 academic articles and book chapters, he is co-editor with Tom Angier and Mark D. Retter of The Cambridge Handbook of Natural Law and Human Rights (C.U.P., 2023) and with Barry W. Bussey, of Religion Liberty and the Jurisdictional Limits of Law (Toronto: Lexis Nexis, 2017); he authored “Subsidiarity: Ancient and Contemporary Accounts” in Nicholas Aroney and Ian Leigh (eds) Christianity and Constitutionalism (O.U.P., 2022) as well as a monograph, Living Together with Disagreement: Pluralism, the Secular and the Fair Treatment of Beliefs by Law (Ballan Australia: Connor Court, 2012). His scholarly work is referred to in many books and articles.

He teaches Legal Philosophy, Legal History, Public International Law, Law and Religion and Contemporary Legal Issues and examines and supervises at Masters and Doctoral levels. He works in English and French, dividing his time between Australia (where he now lives) and France, South Africa and Canada (in the latter two of which he has or has had appointments).
[Faculty profile]

Contact: Sean Murphy, Administrator
Protection of Conscience Project

Health Canada standard seeks conformity, collaboration in euthanasia practice

Submission to Canadian health ministers and regulators urges protection of practitioner freedom of conscience

News release

For immediate release

Protection of Conscience Project

Canada is becoming a world leader in euthanasia and assisted suicide (Medical Assistance in Dying: MaiD).1

Practitioners are expected to conform, comply, condone and actively collaborate in the procedure, even if they cannot conscientiously do so and/or believe it is clinically inappropriate.

Health Canada’s Model Practice Standard for “MaiD” is likely to increase the pressure, forcing those unwilling to collaborate in euthanasia and assisted suicide to leave health care or emigrate.

The Protection of Conscience Project has sent a critique of the Model Practice Standard to Canadian health care regulators and ministers of health, since Health Canada’s Standard has no legal effect unless they formally adopt it.

The submission does not challenge the acceptability or practice of MaiD. It argues that the service can be provided while accommodating those unwilling to collaborate in euthanasia or assisted suicide. The Canadian Medical Association has made this point: “It is in fact in a patient’s best interests and in the public interest for physicians to act as moral agents, and not as technicians or service providers devoid of moral judgement. . . . [M]edical regulators ought to be articulating obligations that encourage moral agency, instead of imposing a duty that is essentially punitive to those for whom it is intended and renders an impoverished understanding of conscience.”

The submission is available on the Project website.

Sean Murphy, Administrator,
Protection of Conscience Project
Email: protection


  1. Owen Dyer, “Assisted deaths: Quebec passes Netherlands to lead world in number per capita” (2022) Brit Med J 379:o3023; Canadian Association of MAID Assessors and Providers, “Written Brief to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights House of Commons Canada” (5 November, 2020), Parliament of Canada (website) at 3.

No Other Options

Newly revealed documents depict a Canadian euthanasia regime that efficiently ushers the vulnerable to a “beautiful” death.

New Atlantis

Alexander Raikin

“I find that the act of offering the option of an assisted death is one of the most therapeutic things we do,” Stefanie Green tells me. She sees it in the faces of her patients — they’re “relieved.” Sometimes it actually means they’ll choose to live longer, to keep fighting, because now they know they can end their suffering if it becomes intolerable.

I wanted to know if Green, a physician specializing in euthanasia in British Columbia, is finding her job easier now than she did at first. “Is it more normal for me to be writing scripts and picking up lethal drugs and driving across town and doing this?” she asks back. It’s a rhetorical question. “Yeah, it’s oddly okay for me to be doing that. I don’t find it shocking anymore, but the events are still extraordinary.”

Green has her own term for these extraordinary events, drawing on her prior experience as an obstetrician, when she helped bring people into the world. “At both ‘deliveries,’ as I call them, I am invited into a most intimate moment in people’s lives,” she writes in her book.

The procedure, she assures me on our call, is “100 percent effective.” If her patient asks to die, and if her schedule, her ethics, and the law permits it, she will administer a lethal injection. . . continue reading

New College of Physicians human rights policy includes some surprises, but tightens the screws on dissenting physicians

News Release

For immediate release

Protection of Conscience Project

A draft College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) policy on human rights updates a controversial requirement for “effective referral” for morally contested services. The policy survived a constitutional legal challenge, and the CPSO seems to consider this a license to make increasingly oppressive demands on dissenting physicians.

In addition, however, the draft includes some surprises:

  • A new policy provision validates the reasoning of physicians opposed to making effective referrals for reasons of conscience. It forbids physicians to comply with patient requests they believe to be discriminatory, applying to facilitation of discrimination the same reasoning applied by physicians who refuse to facilitate euthanasia and assisted suicide by effective referral.

These policy revisions are described in a submission by the Protection of Conscience Project () in response to the CPSO invitation for comment on Human Rights in the Provision of Health Services (Human Rights 2022).

Human Rights 2022 tightens the screws on physicians unwilling to provide or facilitate procedures for reasons of conscience. They are warned that “many patients” will need their help to get even services that patients can directly access.

Further, they must:

Through Human Rights 2022 the CPSO forbids physicians to “express” moral judgement not only about patient beliefs, but about the services they seek. This is inconsistent with the Canadian Medical Association Code of Ethics and Professionalism and obstructs physician-patient matching, an effective strategy for accommodating patients and physicians and improving health outcomes. It also attacks physician freedom of conscience, which can only be exercised by expressing moral/ethical judgement about services.

In defending the effective referral policy, the CPSO assured the courts that physicians could avoid moral/ethical conflicts by changing their scope of practice: from palliative care to hair restoration, for example. A new provision in Human Rights 2022 seems intended to pressure physicians to extend their scope of practice/clinical competence to include services to which they object for reasons of conscience.

Finally, Human Rights 2022 includes a pejorative and unnecessary warning directed at objecting physicians, implying that are likely to lie, deceive, mislead and coerce their patients. Demeaning innuendos of this kind are considered a form of workplace harassment by the Ontario government.

The experience of the Protection of Conscience Project is that objecting practitioners are typically willing to work cooperatively with patients and others to accommodate patient access to services as long as cooperation does not involve collaboration: an act that establishes a causal connection to or de facto support for the services to which they object.

The Project submission includes an example of a single protection of conscience policy applicable to all services and procedures.

The Protection of Conscience Project is a non-profit, non-denominational initiative that supports health care workers who want to provide the best care for their patients without violating their own personal and professional integrity. It does not take a position on the acceptability of morally contested procedures.

Contact: Sean Murphy, Administrator (