Apparently it's OK to violate doctors' charter rights
National Post, 7 February 2018
An Ontario Superior Court ruling that justifies the violation of physicians' right to religious freedom sets a troubling precedent
What happens to fundamental rights when a free and democratic society ceases to be one? That’s the question raised by a decision of the Ontario Superior Court last week.
The court was petitioned by doctors who want nothing to do with “medical assistance in dying,” namely they do not want to use their expertise and professional status to procure the death of their patients. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) has a policy that requires physicians who do not want to administer lethal treatment to their patients to arrange for their patients to see someone who will. It’s called an “effective referral.” Doctors are therefore mandated to “effect” something that they object to.
Consider a patient who, after a bit of intensive internet research, asks his doctor for a particular drug or course of therapy. The doctor refuses. In her professional judgment the treatment is not in the best interests of the patient. The patient then asks the doctor to arrange for that same treatment from another physician, to “effect” that treatment despite her judgment that it is not appropriate.
The doctor would likely remind the patient that he is free to seek a second opinion, or even seek out another doctor altogether. But the patient’s wish does not override her professional opinion; the doctor is not a waiter taking an order.
What if the patient instead asks to be killed? Then, according to the CPSO, the doctor becomes a service provider, not a professional with a different judgment, much less a citizen with conscientious objections. A doctor can refuse to prescribe the latest weight-loss drug, but must “effect” a lethal injection.
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