Alberta private member’s bill to reopen debate on physician conscience rights

UCP MLA Dan Williams says his bill is meant to simply affirm Charter rights

CBC News

Dean Bennett

Alberta politicians are to debate the role of conscience rights and the responsibilities of physicians asked to assist or advise on abortions, contraception or medically assisted deaths.

United Conservative backbencher Dan Williams is to introduce Thursday a private member’s bill to reassert the Charter-protected freedom of conscience and religion for health providers.

Williams says the bill is in response to an Appeal Court of Ontario ruling this spring.

Ontario’s high court affirmed a lower court ruling that found physicians who object on moral grounds to contentious issues like abortion must offer patients an “effective referral” to another health provider. . . [Full text]

Alberta Catholic doctors fear erosion of conscience rights

Grandin Media

Andrew Ehrkamp

Many Catholic doctors in Alberta are worried that they will soon be forced to provide referrals for medically assisted suicide, says the head of the provincial St. Luke’s Physicians’ Guild.

Dr. Mary Ellen Haggerty says a recent Ontario court decision sets a precedent that will lead to a legal requirement that any doctor in Alberta must provide that referral. For Catholics, such a referral would make them morally complicit in the act itself. To date the doctors have been protected by the Charter rights to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion if they refused to participate in assisted suicide and euthanasia, as well as abortion and other controversial procedures. . . [Full text]