For Immediate Distribution
OTTAWA, Ont. (February 25, 2016) – A parliamentary committee on physician-assisted dying doesn’t go nearly far enough to protect conscience rights of health care workers and health care facilities, says the Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience.
The coalition, whose members include approximately 5,000 physicians across Canada, maintains recommendations released by the committee in a report today ignore the moral convictions of
health care providers who object to helping take patients lives, under any circumstances.
The committee report, which will be considered by the federal government as it crafts legislation for assisted death, recommends that health practitioners who object on matters of conscience still
be required to provide patients “effective referrals” to end their lives.
“In our view, effective referral and participating in assisted death are morally and ethically the same thing. This would force people of conscience and faith to act against their moral convictions
and threaten the very core of why they became physicians, which is to help to heal people,” says Larry Worthen, Coalition member and Executive Director of the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada. “This is discrimination. It is unnecessary. No other jurisdiction in the world requires physicians to refer for assisted death.”
The coalition is also shocked that the committee has recommended that the federal government work with provinces and territories to ensure that all publicly funded health care institutions provide physician-assisted death.
“This is a grave threat to a large number of faith-based health care institutions across the country, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, nursing homes and hospices,” Worthen said. “Forcing these members, and leaders of these facilities, to act in this way, would be trampling on their constitutional right to freedom of conscience and religion guaranteed under the Charter.”
The coalition has put forward a proposal that will respect the conscience rights of doctors and health care facilities, without interfering with the patient’s choice for assisted death.
“The bottom line is that our members should not be forced to act against their conscience. This should not be imposed upon them,” Worthen said.
The coalition represents several like-minded organizations committed to protecting conscience rights for health practitioners and institutions. Members of the coalition include the Catholic
Archdiocese of Toronto, the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada, the Catholic Organization for Life and Family, the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians’ Societies, the
Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute and Canadian Physicians for Life.
About The Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience:
The Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience represents a group of like-minded organizations, including 5,000 physicians across Canada, that are committed to protecting conscience rights for
faith-based health practitioners and facilities. We were brought together by a common mission to respect the sanctity of human life, to protect the vulnerable and to promote the ability of individuals and institutions to provide health care without having to compromise their moral convictions.
For more information, please contact:
902 880 2495