Ontario conscience campaign

Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience

  Dear Friend

July 2021 survey shows 85% of Ontarians are supportive of legislation to make participation in MAID (medical assistance in dying) voluntary for healthcare professionals.

We are concerned that patients, particularly vulnerable ones with disabilities, chronic illness and persons with mental health concerns, will choose or be forced into MAID because of a lack of options, social support networks or available services. In all cases, the opinion and clinical experience of the primary healthcare professional provides an important check and balance against hasty, ill-informed, or improper MAID requests.

 Please write the Ontario government today using the letter on our website to encourage them to create legislation to protect doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals so they can continue to properly care for patients. Even if you have written before – including recently – please write Ontario legislators today to let them know you want conscience legislation this fall.

Click on the button below to write your MPP.

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The Conservative Party’s stance on conscience rights and free votes should worry progressive voters


Tracey Lindeman

Ah, the freedom of conscience.

There it is, the number-one freedom in the Canadian charter: the right to move through this country in ways that don’t compromise your values or beliefs. This freedom underlies other significant parts of the charter, namely the right to bodily autonomy and equality, or sections seven and 15, respectively. 

Who would want to live in a place where we couldn’t make personal decisions about our own bodies, decisions that our own consciences support? Say you want to abort an embryo or fetus growing inside you—that’s your right. Or say you have a terminal illness or awful quality of life, and you want to die on your own terms. That’s your right, too. 

Except, in Conservative leader Erin O’Toole’s vision, in these scenarios it’s the doctors exercising their consciences, not the patients. . . continue reading

Erin O’Toole’s abortion stance serves neither physicians nor women

The Conversation

Gwyneth E. Bergman

Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole recently found himself at the centre of the abortion debate as he hit the campaign trail in advance of the federal election on Sept. 20.

The controversy arose when he stated he was pro-choice while simultaneously claiming that he supported the rights of physicians to deny abortions on the basis of conscience.

He has since stepped back from that position, claiming instead that physicians must still provide referrals even when they object to providing abortions themselves.

However, while referrals are often said to strike a reasonable balance between physician and women’s rights, it’s not clear whether that’s actually true. . . continue reading

Canada’s politicians go MIA in debate over conscientious objection for doctors


Michael Cook

Conscientious objection to abortion and euthanasia has emerged as an election issue in Canada’s 2021 federal election – and politicians are refusing to defend it.

The pro-choice leader of the Conservatives, Erin O’Toole, has walked back from a promise in his party’s platform to “protect the conscience rights of health-care professionals.”

Does this mean that the Conservatives will defend the right not to refer patients for Medical Aid in Dying? O’Toole fudged an answer, but he was clearly not in favour.

The governing Liberal Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, jumped on an opportunity to score points: “Pro-choice doesn’t mean the freedom of doctors to choose. It means the freedom of women to choose. Leaders have to be unequivocal on that,” he said last week.

The politicians’ reluctance to support doctors who do not want to refer for abortion or euthanasia is mirrored in the reluctance of the professional associations to defend refusal to refer. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario requires doctors to provide an “effective referral” within a “timely manner” to another professional or agency, should they consciously object. “Physicians must not impede access to care for existing patients, or those seeking to become patients,” reads the college’s policy.

Quebec’s Collège des médecins du Québec says that: “In Quebec, doctors cannot abandon patients or even ignore their request by invoking conscientious objections, particularly in matters of abortion or medical assistance in dying, without referring them to another colleague. It is an ethical obligation.”

However, Colleges in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Manitoba all explicitly say that professionals who refuse to provide service are not required to make a referral. They cite the Canadian Medical Association’s Code of Ethics and Professionalism.

This article is published by Michael Cook and BioEdge under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees

If shamelessness is the key to success in politics, O’Toole is looking good

The Globe and Mail

Andrew Coyne

Nice guys, in Canadian politics, do not finish last: they do not even finish. Our political history is littered with the corpses of decent, principled leaders who never got a sniff at power, but were gutted and filleted by their less-encumbered opponents.

Parties in opposition tend to burn through one or two of the decent, principled types while they figure out what they stand for, before at last realizing that what they really stand for is power. Whereupon they promptly find someone sufficiently shameless to get them there. . . .

So Conservatives must be thrilled to find Erin O’Toole showing promise of the requisite shamelessness. . . continue reading