Friday, February 28, 2020

Ontario Medical Association President - Conscience Rights Matter

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Petition: Protect Conscience Rights for Healthcare workers in Ontario (Link).
Several years ago, the Ontario College of Physicians passed an edict requiring physicians, who oppose euthanasia (MAiD) to do an effective referral to a physician who is willing to kill a patient. Physicians who oppose euthanasia rights responded that to effectively refer a patient for euthanasia was similar to doing the act itself. These physicians began a campaign to demand conscience protections in law.

The case for conscience protection was then brought to the Ontario court where the Ontario Court of Appeal found that physicians who challenged the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) policy requiring an "effective referral" for Medical Aid in Dying (euthanasia and assisted suicide) and other morally contentious issues, that their Charter rights were infringed by the policy, but the infringement is reasonable in a free and democratic society. Link to Court of Appeal decision.

The Physicians for Healthcare and Conscience have now been working to convince politicians to protect conscience rights for healthcare workers through legislation.

Dr. Sohail Gandhi
This week Dr Sohail Gandhi, the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) President, published a personal blog supporting conscience rights, titled:  Conscience Rights Matter. In his blog Gandhi states:
In particular, I think of the decision by the divisional court of Ontario, and then the Ontario Court of Appeal to deny physicians conscience rights. The courts claimed they struck a “reasonable balance”. But they also went on to expressly state in their ruling that the “referral requirement does infringe on doctors’ religious freedoms.” Make no mistake about this, rights and freedoms of certain individuals are being violated by this ruling.
Gandhi continues:
Many physicians’ groups have expressed concern about being forced to make a referral for this service, in violation of their morals and ethics. This concern has been expressed not just by physicians of faith, but by secular groups like the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians.
Gandhi then states that he supports a system that protects conscience rights for physicians that requires a physician, who oppose euthanasia, to provide patients with the contact information for the MAiD coordination service, which he says is not a referral.

I agree that the MAiD coordination service contact information is available to everyone anyway and the physician is only providing contact information that can be found on the internet, nonetheless, it remains a lesser form of a referral.

I thank Dr Gandhi for his courage to write this blog article. There are euthanasia doctors in Ontario who will attack him simply for presenting this balanced point of view.

I hope that Dr Sohail Gandhi's support for conscience rights will move the Ontario government to protect conscience rights for healthcare workers in Ontario.

Further reading on the Ontario Conscience Rights issue:

1 comment:

Lipizzan horse lover said...

I totally agree with Gandhi's comments - read his blog - I'm also a Trekkie. Thanks for the article.