Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Canadian letter writing: Protecting conscience rights for medical professionals

Dear Friends:

The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons has decided that physicians, who refuse to participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide, must refer their patients to a physician who will kill their patient. They have decided that physicians do not have conscience rights.

Other provincial Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons are also debating forcing physicians to participate in assisted death by requiring them to refer patients for euthanasia or assisted suicide.

A recent article by two bioethicists argues that medical professionals do not have conscience rights.

Some physicians are saying that they will move to a jurisdiction that upholds conscience rights or retire from medicine, if they are forced to refer patients to death.

The Coalition for Healthcare and Conscience responded by launching a court case to protect conscience rights for medical professionals in Canada. We need to support our physicians.

Doctors in the Netherlands and in Oregon, where assisted death is legal, are not being forced to refer their patients for assisted death. Read: My personal story - The importance of trust between patient and doctor by an Oregon doctor.

We need you to write a letter about your concerns, fears or personal reaction to the attack on conscience rights for medical professionals.  
  • Are you concerned that you might be encouraged to die by assisted death when you are at a low time of your life?
  • Are you concerned that a friend or family member may die by assisted death, when they are at a low time of their life, even though they would normally not consider death by lethal dose?
  • Based on your health condition, do you fear subtle or overt pressure to assisted death?
  • Do you feel safer if your physician is not complicit with assisted death?
  • Do you believe that physicians conscience rights should be protected?
Other important points to consider:
  • Conscience rights for healthcare workers protect patients when they are living with depression and experiencing challenging health conditions.
  • Conscience rights provide health professionals with the legal and moral ability to provide caring options rather than killing their patient.
The letter needs to be simple and straight forward: 

(Sample Letter. Do not copy the sample letter) 

To whom it may concern. 
I am an elderly Canadian who is concerned that with the legalisation of assisted dying that I may someday be subtly pressured to die a premature death. 
My physician told me that he/she will not participate in euthanasia and assisted suicide. This comforts me.
Please protect my right to have a physician who shares my values.
You must sign the letter with your address, your phone number and your email address.

Send your letter to:
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Box 25033, London Ontario N6C 6A8

We will share them with the legal team who are working to protect conscience rights for medical professionals in Canada.

You can also save signed letter as a PDF and send it to

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

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