Code of Ethics (2009)
A protection of conscience provision is found in the Alberta College of Pharmacy Code of Ethics (2009).1 Objecting pharmacists are directed
- to help patients “obtain appropriate pharmacy services from another pharmacist or health professional within a time frame fitting the patient’s needs” (clause 3);
- to arrange their practices so that “the care of [their] patients will not be jeopardized” when they refuse to provide services for reasons of conscience (clause 4);
- to continue “to provide professional services” until another pharmacist or health professional has assumed responsibility (clause 1).
The text seems to presume that the objecting pharmacist need not provide the morally contested service. The requirement to continue to provide “professional services” until someone else assumes responsiblity does not impose an obligation to provide it if another professional is not available within the relevant time frame. . . [Full text]
Nursing has often been described as a “caring profession.” For historical reasons associated with the development of nursing, it appears that most nursing guidance documents use the terms “care” or “nursing care” with respect to all nurse-patient interactions, including interventions or treatments ordered by attending physicians.
This puts objecting nurses at a rhetorical disadvantage. Objections are made to treatments or interventions, not to caring. However, in a nursing context this is more readily perceived or characterized as “refusing to care.”
The failure to distinguish between “care” and “treatment” can introduce uncertainty into guidance about conscientious objection, which, for example, may insist that an objecting nurse continue to provide “care” for a patient until relieved, without specifying that the care does not include the treatment or intervention to which the nurse objects…[Full text]
Alberta has been identified by freedom of conscience advocates as providing a satisfactory model of accommodation that should be imitated across the country. In late 2019 the head of the Alberta Medical Association and sponsor of a controversial protection of conscience bill in the Alberta legislature agreed that existing protections were “appropriate and effective.” On the other hand, it has been reported that Alberta physicians are obliged to refer for morally contested services, including assisted suicide, which would be unacceptable to many objecting practitioners. The dissonant evaluations reflect differences between actual practice and two College policies that take different approaches to freedom of conscience…[Full text]
Second session of 30th legislature starts on Feb. 25
A controversial private member’s bill on conscience rights for medical providers will be dropped now that the government intends to prorogue the first session of the 30th legislature.
Government House Leader Jason Nixon announced on Wednesday that the second session will start Feb. 25 with a speech from the throne. . . [Full text]
UCP MLA Dan Williams says his bill is meant to simply affirm Charter rights
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]