Physician’s conscience should trump patient demands, argues Justice Centre

TORONTO: The Justice Centre will intervene at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Tuesday June 13 through June 15, in support of the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada (“CMDS”) Application against the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (the “CPSO”) in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

The CPSO has adopted policies that require doctors to assist patients who want to commit suicide, and other medical services such as abortion, even if those services conflict with a doctor’s conscience or religious beliefs.  The CPSO further requires doctors to provide “an effective referral” for physician-assisted suicide, also known as Medical Assistance in Dying (“MAID”).

The Justice Centre’s intervention will focus on the Supreme Court’s repeated rulings that there is no Charter right to health care, or any medical procedure, including MAID.  Therefore, there cannot be a right, Charter or otherwise, which allows patients to demand that an individual doctor perform or provide any medical procedure or an “effective referral” for any specific medical procedure or service that violates that doctor’s conscientious or religious beliefs.

On the contrary, doctors have protected conscience and religious rights under section 2(a) of the Charter, and government bodies like the College are required to respect those Charter freedoms. In failing to respect the conscience rights of medical practitioners, the CPSO threatens the integrity of the entire medical profession.

The Justice Centre’s Factum concludes:

The Policy uses threats and coercion to compel conduct that overrides a physician’s foundational right-and-wrong imperatives. The CPSO’s justifications as to why it is  necessary in the instant case to violate an individual’s conscience are fallacious. There is no constitutional right to health care, and no fiduciary obligations exist to require a physician to assist with suicide. History is replete with examples of state entities that compelled their citizens to act contrary to conscience, with horrific and tragic results. In attempting to compel conduct against the wills and consciences of medical practitioners the CPSO adds itself to a list of infamy.