Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada executive director Larry Worthen says that his group and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario could have worked out a policy that respected both the conscience rights of doctors and Ontario Human Rights Code policies. Photo by Michael Swan

Christian doctors take College of Physicians and Surgeons to court

By 
  • March 24, 2015

After seven months of refusing to meet face-to-face with the affected doctors, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario will now face them in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

The Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada, supported by the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physician’s Societies, has filed an application to the court seeking a permanent injunction against the college’s new human rights policy that would force doctors to refer for abortion, contraception and legal euthanasia even if doing so violates their sincerely held religious beliefs and their conscience.

The two medical associations are asking the court to find that the CPSO’s new policy violates their rights to freedom of religion and freedom of conscience under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They also claim the “effective referral” policy violates their right to “equal treatment and benefit under the law” by denying doctors rights normally granted to other citizens.

In a release, the College of Physicians and Surgeons said it will “vigorously defend the recently approved policy.”

The college did not respond to questions from The Catholic Register about why it chose not to meet with the doctors who are most likely to have moral objections to specific treatments or procedures.

Requiring doctors to act against their conscience is bad medicine for both patients and the doctors, said Christian Medical and Dental Association president Dr. Diane Haak. Doctors caught in this tension, facing disciplinary action for doing what their conscience dictates, will burn out and may leave either the province or the practice of medicine, she said.

Dr. Bryan Dias of the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians’ Societies  said his group and their lawyer have sought a meeting with the College of Physicians and Surgeons since last July and never received a response.

“We reached out, as did a lot of our members,” Dias said. “Again we did not have a response. To be quite frank, if we had the opportunity to have a dialogue we would not have this problem.”

The two medical associations are raising funds among their members to meet an expected $150,000 legal bill.

“That’s money I would rather send to our project in South Sudan,” said CMDS executive director Deacon Larry Worthen.

Though 90 per cent of CMDS’s 1,687 members are Evangelical Christian doctors, Worthen is a Catholic lawyer in Dartmouth, N.S. The Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians Societies represents Catholic guilds and societies in 11 cities, four of them in Ontario, comprising about 150 members.

Worthen claims the two sides could have easily have worked out a human rights policy that respected the conscience rights of doctors and lined up with Ontario Human Rights Code policies.

“They’re using a very blunt instrument to solve a very specific problem,” he said.

In fact, the new policy does not make access to abortion any easier or more generally available.

“Actually it makes access more difficult. Why make the doctor refer when the patient can self-refer?” asked Worthen.

Woodstock emergency room and palliative care Dr. Michelle Korvemaker, who frequently fills in for absent family doctors, said she’s always willing to have a full, frank and respectful dialogue with patients about all their options, including abortion.

“There’s no obstruction to the patient’s access,” she said.

One of five doctors named in the CMDS application to the court, Korvemaker is particularly concerned that the new policy may require her to refer for physician-assisted death now that the Supreme Court of Canada has struck down criminal code provisions against it.

“This new policy would require me to engage in this practice,” she said.

As a palliative care physician himself, Dias has the same concerns.

“If I have to refer somebody for euthanasia, then I cannot practice medicine in Ontario,” he said.

Comments (2)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Kathleen Wynne has been destroying the province for quite some time. Her destructive 'social engineering' is ongoing at every level. The aim she and her cohorts have is to 'control everyone' at every level.
Look at the filthy sex ed...

Kathleen Wynne has been destroying the province for quite some time. Her destructive 'social engineering' is ongoing at every level. The aim she and her cohorts have is to 'control everyone' at every level.
Look at the filthy sex ed curriculum/-education - Now the doctors! -= she must go!!

Read More
maria
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

What is going on in Ontario..every since Wynnie was voted in, the morality of the province has gone down hill..did people not realize that this woman had ulterior motives..I'm still shocked and revolted by the thoughts that certain residents of...

What is going on in Ontario..every since Wynnie was voted in, the morality of the province has gone down hill..did people not realize that this woman had ulterior motives..I'm still shocked and revolted by the thoughts that certain residents of cities would think this woman could do this..

Read More
Mary Hale
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