The Calgary and Edmonton Chapters of the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada are in support of Bill 212, The Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Amendment Act, which would protect healthcare workers’ conscience rights.
Increasingly, we hear of institutions and organizations placing pressure on healthcare workers to act contrary to their convictions, especially as technological advances challenge traditional ethical boundaries. Canada has a long history of recognizing the rights of freedom of conscience; however, healthcare workers are feeling increasingly vulnerable. Many are calling for explicit legislation to protect them from being required to refer for or participate directly or indirectly in medical procedures or treatments that violate their convictions without fear of discrimination, dismissal, or harassment.
Certainly, physicians and other healthcare workers must provide care in life-threatening emergencies to all people regardless of ethnic origin, creed, etc.: this is consistent with the Hippocratic tradition. Also in keeping with the Hippocratic tradition is the inviolable tenet that human life is sacred, regardless of stage. Consequently, those who solemnly hold these principles must not be pressured to act contrary to them as they are foundational to the integrity of the profession and the trust of the public. In matters of choice, healthcare workers are positioned to fully inform patients of all their legal options, but they must not be obligated to participate in a patient’s choice of treatment.
CMDS desires an open discussion of the issue of conscience-protection legislation and, to this end, invites healthcare workers to bring their concerns to the attention of their professional organizations, politicians, and members of the public.
For further information: In Calgary, contact Dr. W. Joseph Askin at 236-1500 In Edmonton, contact Dr. Gunnar Myrholm at 465-0951
Christian Medical and Dental Society (CMDS) #26, 7740 18 St. S.E. Calgary, AB T2C 2N5 Tel: (403) 236-1500 Fax (403) 236-2839