Doctors with moral objections to assisted dying should be able to opt out, committee hears

Assisted dying law could be coupled with improved palliative care, committee hears

CBC News

Peter Zimonjic

Doctors who morally object to physician-assisted dying should not be obligated to refer patients to a doctor who will provide the service, a joint Commons-Senate committee studying the issue heard Wednesday.

Dr. Cindy Forbes, president of the Canadian Medical Association told the panel that doctors shouldn’t have to refer a patient, but they must “advise the patient on all of their options … including physician assisted dying, and make sure the patient has the information they need to access that service” . . . [Full text]

Conscientious objectors at Canadian conference told to leave profession of pharmacy

Representatives speaking up for freedom of conscience in pharmacy were told that they should leave the profession by more than one colleague at the Canadian Pharmacists Association Conference in Saskatoon. Frank Archer’s article was cited against them.


Attacks on freedom of conscience in pharmacy in Canada continue

The Toronto Sun published an article by columnist Marianne Meed Ward mocking the position taken by conscientious objectors among pharmacists.

In May, 2000, prior to the decision by Manitoba pharmacists, a letter to the editor of the Pharmacy Practice (an on-line publication) had argued against the idea largely on grounds of economic self interest. (See the response of the Project)

Also in May, the Canadian Pharmaceutical Journal, owned by the Canadian Pharmacists Association, published a column asserting that pharmacists must dispense drugs despite conscientious objection, or refer patients to a pharmacist who will The column was written by Frank Archer, described as a bio-medical ethics tutor at the University of British Columbia, and a member of the ethics committee of the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia. In the same issue, the editor of the Journal declared: “Emergency contraception is here and the majority of Canadians – including most health professionals – are firmly in support. Pharmacists have a professional responsibility to help ensure safe, efficient access to all approved medicines, whatever their personal beliefs.”

Pharmacy colleges quash conscientious objection


Greg J. Edwards

Pharmacists are critically thinking individuals who integrate their values into their work life-and they are not mere robots who are glorified order-takers for physicians. We should be promoting such thinking, not punishing it.–Nancy Metcalfe, pharmacist

Pharmacists are said to be the most trusted professionals in medicine; they’re conscientious; we rely on their discretion and their judgment; they have our confidence; we respect them; but do pharmacists respect themselves, let alone one another?

It’s a good question, because in Canada, pharmacists, unlike doctors, find that conscientious objection is a bitter pill for their professional licensing organizations to swallow.

The pharmacists’ governors pay lip service to a pharmacist’s right to refuse to dispense products, but, in fact, a customer’s convenience trumps a pharmacist’s freedoms of conscience and religion: pharmacists are free to object but in the end they must refer or otherwise help customers get the objectionable product. [Full text]

Canadian Pharmacists Association re: conscientious objection

A report from Life Site News referred to an article in the January edition of the Canadian Pharmacy Practice journal. With respect to the drug ‘Preven’ (‘morning after pill’), Jeff Poston, executive director of the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA), was reported to have commented that while the CPhA “supports the use of the new drug, it also recognizes the pharmacist’s right to refuse to fill [a prescription] based on moral or religious beliefs.”