Canadian Physicians for Life calls on the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta to verify the alleged charges of women being bullied by pro-life physicians.
The tone of the statement from College Councillor Dr. Eugene Kretzul is patronizing and dismissive of the conscience rights of doctors. The “nudge-nudge, wink-wink” 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.
The “pro-choice” Alberta College apparently lacks tolerance for physicians’ choice to be pro-life. The Code of Ethics of the Canadian Medical Association requires physicians to “inform a patient when their personal morality would influence the recommendation or practice of any medical procedure that the patient needs or wants.” The Alberta College suggests pro-life doctors go further: usher abortion requesters into the abortion-on-demand system or face the charge of being unprofessional.
In Alberta, as elsewhere, it is often easier for women to obtain an abortion than support and counseling services. For a woman to make a truly “informed decision” she must be presented with the embryology of her unborn child so that she will know that she is aborting a human being, not just a clump of cells or a piece of her own tissues. She deserves more than the wave-through suggested by the College’s statement.
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?
And if abortion seekers have complained of being bullied, has the College conducted diligent enquiries into such serious accusations? What was the outcome? Or is polemical hearsay the College’s new standard of evidence when the target is pro-life doctors?
In plain English, independent medical professionals have no duty to refer anyone to anyone when the referral would violate the conscience and the medical good judgement of the professional. This elementary conscience protection impartially shields doctors who possess any convictions on any topic at all. Whether the request be for genital mutilation, the amputation of a healthy limb, or an abortion, the true professional will never be coerced into offending his or her basic principles. Canadian Physicians for Life calls on the Alberta College to retract and clarify its venture into professional conscience ethics.
Will Johnston, M.D.
For further information
Canadian Physicians for Life Administration
Phone (604) 794-3772; Fax (604) 794-3960