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Doctors’ conscience rights under attack in birth control debate

One physician threatens to give up his practice rather than kill patients

BC Catholic

Deborah Gyapong

Doctors who refuse to prescribe birth control pills have become the focus of a debate over physicians’ rights to freedom of conscience and religion when practising medicine.

An Alberta doctor has been in the media spotlight recently for posting a notice at the clinic where she works she will not prescribe the pill and now faces a human rights complaint. Earlier this year, three Ottawa doctors came under fire for similar reasons. The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons (CPSO) is doing a public consultation on its guidelines that could be revamped to restrict doctors’ rights to abstain from legal medical practices on religious or conscientious grounds.

For Dr. Howie Bright, past president of the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians’ Societies (CFCPS), the attack on birth control is a “fairly discrete target because it sounds weird that a modern doctor” would not prescribe contraception and is likely to “generate reaction.” [Full text]

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