Canada is often seen as a champion of women’s rights, LGBT* freedoms, and liberal ideology when compared to our neighbors to the south. In many ways, this is true, and while more conservative rhetoric exists here, they generally seem to have accepted that certain debates (like the legality of abortion) are off-limits.
However, this time someone has gone too far.
MLA Dan Williams (Peace River), has introduced the “Conscious Rights (Health Care Providers) Protection Act” in Alberta, so that “Health care providers should never have to choose between their most deeply held beliefs and their jobs”.
The bill has now passed the first reading and will now go to a standing committee.
“Under this new bill, doctors will be able to refuse to both treat and offer referrals to patients for healthcare to which they are personally morally opposed”
Under this new bill, doctors will be able to refuse to both treat and offer referrals to patients for healthcare to which they are personally morally opposed. This could include things like abortion or birth control.
Ontario’s high court has previously held that while physicians are not required to perform treatments they object to on moral grounds, they still must offer a referral to another care provider.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, abortion services (both the abortion pill and surgical abortions) are fully covered by our universal healthcare in Canada, and you can get birth control pills from a pharmacist in several provinces.
While I’m very loudly and unashamedly pro-choice, I can respect that not everyone who practices medicine wants to be performing abortions all day every day. No one is forcing doctors to do this. No one is suggesting anything even remotely close to that.
“Your religion may dictate your own healthcare choices, but it should not dictate mine.”
When you make the decision to go spend years of your life working towards becoming a doctor in a country where abortion is legal, it’s something a patient may ask you for a referral for. You have a responsibility to provide that care, and frankly, it’s something you should have considered over your many years of schooling if that belief is so deeply held. Likewise for birth control.
Your religion may dictate your own healthcare choices, but it should not dictate mine.
When you choose to practice medicine, you are choosing to swear an oath and to provide care to other people. Please consider what that means before you enter the field, and if it isn’t right for you, find a different career.