CANADIAN PHYSICIANS FOR LIFE
RE: “Even doctors ethically must make referrals for abortion services, whether they morally support that or not.” Melanie Anderson – Planned Parenthood Alberta (CTV News and Current Affairs Sat 02 Jun 2001)
The erroneous allegation that physicians who object to abortion for reasons of conscience are obliged to refer patients for the procedure continues to be promulgated in Alberta.
Our correspondence with Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons registrar, Dr. Ohlhauser, states clearly that physicians do not have a professional obligation to refer a patient for an abortion. The College requires, as does the Code of Ethics of the Canadian Medical Association, that physicians “inform a patient when their personal morality would influence the recommendation or practice of any medical procedure that the patient needs or wants.”
A pro-life physician should declare her personal views to a pregnant patient considering an abortion, in order to place her subsequent discussion in context. The doctor then has every right, indeed, a responsibility, to outline the potential mental and physical risks of abortion just as she would before prescribing a drug or weighing the merits of surgery.
A number of studies report a close correlation between abortion, especially of a first pregnancy, and breast cancer. Are Alberta physicians telling abortion seekers of this threat to their health? Are women being informed of the risk of post-abortion emotional trauma? Are patients being warned that some physicians’ ardent pro-abortion beliefs bias the “counselling” process?
A physician’s duty of care extends to two patients in the case of a pregnant woman – the woman and her unborn child. For a woman to make a truly “informed decision” she must be presented with the facts of human embryology of her unborn child so that she will know that what she is aborting is a human being, not just a clump of cells or a piece of her own tissues. Withholding basic information shows disrespect for women and is both dishonest and patronizing, since it implies that women are too weak to know the truth.
The suggestion that morally troublesome issues need only be referred to a colleague is oblivious to the principled objections of pro-life physicians. Increasingly exotic reproductive technologies may eventually offend even the most laissez-faire physicians. There may come a day where no physician feels free from coercion to violate his or her conscience.
Will Johnston, MD
President – Canadian Physicians for LifeContact:
Canadian Physicians for Life
10150 Gillanders Road; Chilliwack, BC V2P 6H4
Phone: 604-794-3772 Fax: 604-794-3960
Visit us at: www.physiciansforlife.ca