College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario: Revised Professional Obligations and Human Rights

At a time of year when most of us are distracted by many things, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has surreptitiously put out a revised draft policy entitled Professional Obligations and Human Rights that will affect Ontario physicians’ freedom to act in accordance with their religious and moral beliefs. According to their website, “the draft policy sets out physicians’ existing legal obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code), and the College’s expectation that physicians will respect the fundamental rights of those who seek their medical services. The draft policy also sets out the college’s expectations for physicians who limit the health services they provide due to their personal values and beliefs.” The policy specifies that a physician who refuses to provide medical information or services that go against his or her religious and moral beliefs is acting in a discriminatory manner.

The Code specifies that physicians have an obligation to accommodate the patient even when medical treatment or providing information goes against the physician’s religious and moral beliefs. Examples of how this policy would be enacted include:

  1. providing counseling or prescriptions for artificial birth control
  2. the duty to refer to other physicians who will counsel and prescribe artificial birth control
  3. performing therapeutic abortions
  4. referring patients to physicians who will refer or perform therapeutic abortions

As a registered nurse, I know that the best and safest medical care can only be delivered if the freedom of conscience rights of our physicians are safeguarded. The Code’s expectation that physicians provide care that is contrary to their religious and moral beliefs will result in doctors as puppets of the state and puppets of patients and their families. Removing physicians’ freedom to make decisions within a sound moral framework will hurt all of us.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons is inviting medical and other health professionals, as well as the general public to comment on the draft policy. The deadline to provide feedback is February, 20, 2015. Make your voice heard. Protect our physicians’ fundamental right to provide care in accordance with their religious and moral beliefs.

Go here to add your comment and complete a brief online survey. Do it now.  Protect our physicians. Protect ourselves.

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