Religious Discrimination Bill may deny ‘vulnerable’ rural patients health care, AMA warns

ABC News

Lauren Roberts

The health of “vulnerable” people living in remote communities across Australia could be put at risk if the Commonwealth pushes ahead with its Religious Discrimination Bill 2019, experts say.

Australian Medical Association NT president Dr Rob Parker has written to Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter asking for significant changes to the proposed legislation.

Dr Parker was concerned conservative doctors could deny vulnerable patients health care on moral grounds, leaving them with few other options. . . [Full text]

Committee votes not to send conscience rights bill to house for debate

Edmonton Journal

Lisa Johnson

21 November, 2019

A bill creating special conscience rights for doctors will not move on to debate in the house after doctors and health-care advocates told legislators in a committee meeting Thursday night that it put access to medical care at risk.

A committee voted 8-2 for Bill 207 to not proceed, including 4 UCP MLAs voting against it going to debate.

“No one right is more important than another right. When our rights as human beings come into conflict with each other’s rights, we must always ask ourselves: where is the greater harm?” said Stephanie Shostak of the Trans Equality Society of Alberta at the committee meeting. . . [Full text]

Rally against ‘conscience rights’ Bill 207 gathers hundreds at legislature

CTV News

Alex Antoneshyn

EDMONTON — Criticism swelled on Saturday of a new private member’s bill that would undo a requirement of doctors to refer treatment or service which goes against their beliefs, as protestors rallied at the Alberta Legislature to express their concern.

Sanda Azocar, executive director of Friends of Medicare, called Bill 207, The Conscience Rights Protection Act, an unnecessary piece of proposed legislation that would cause discrimination and harm. . . [Full text]

UCP MLA denies conscience rights bill limits health care access

Backbench MLA faces continued questions about potential implications of Bill 207

CBC News

Michelle Bellefontaine

The Alberta UCP MLA behind a controversial bill on conscience rights for health care providers says the bill isn’t intended to cut access to services like abortion and medical assistance in dying as critics have charged.

“I feel there is some misinformation about what the bill is trying to do and what it does do,” Peace River MLA Dan Williams told reporters Friday.   

“I want to be absolutely clear. This bill in no way categorically limits access to any services. That was not my intent, that is not what the bill does.” . . . [Full text]

Health minister uncertain about constitutionality of doctors’ conscience rights bill

Calgary Herald

Bill Kaufman

A controversial doctors’ conscience-rights bill won’t impede services for abortion, transgendered people and those seeking medically assisted death, Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro said Wednesday.

But the minister admitted he isn’t entirely familiar with some aspects of private member’s Bill 207, which passed first reading in the legislature last week.

Those comments came the same day the Alberta Medical Association expressed opposition to the bill, calling it “unnecessary” while saying it threatens to “limit access to patient services.” . . . [Full text]