Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Conscience rights for Canadian nurses and Physician assistants are being trampled by their professional bodies

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA) have advised their members that they are not required to directly participate in physician assisted death (euthanasia and assisted suicide) but they are required to refer the patient to someone who will directly participate. Therefore CAPA is not protecting the conscience rights of their members by forcing them to refer patients to an executioner.

Physician Assistants work under a supervising physician and therefore they do not have the freedom to decide to work with a certain group of patients. According to the CAPA website:

The PA’s scope of practice is determined on an individual basis and formally outlined in a practice contract or agreement between the supervising physician(s), the PA and often the facility or service where the PA will work.
In the same manner, the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) interim guidelines on Physician-Assisted Death (euthanasia and assisted suicide). The guidelines states:
health care professionals who have conscientious objections should refer or transfer a client to another health care provider. If no other caregiver can be arranged, you must provide the immediate care required.
Based on the guidelines for Physician assistants and the Ontario Nurses Association guidelines, medical professionals, who work "under the direction of physicians" have not been had their conscience rights protected by their medical bodies.

Conscience rights, for these groups of medical professionals is essential because they do not have the absolute freedom of choosing what patient group that they will work with and they usually work under another medical professional.

The Canadian Association of Physician Assistants and the Ontario Nurses Association should be working diligently to respect the rights of their members.

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