An open letter from a coalition of Christians, Jewish and Muslim leaders were sent to all 107 Ontario MPPs March 27 in support of the province's doctors' fight for conscience rights. Photo by Michael Swan

Religious coalition backs doctors’ conscience rights battle at Queen’s Park

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  • March 28, 2017

A coalition of Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders has sent an open letter to all 107 Ontario MPPs urging them to work together and “find a pathway that respects the rights of medical professionals, facilities and patients.”

The letter was sent March 27 as committee hearings were underway regarding Bill-84, which will regulate medically assisted dying in Ontario.  

The coalition urges MPPs to amend the Bill to include conscience protection for doctors and other health-care workers who oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, and to follow the Alberta model to create a “care coordination service” that provides patient access to assisted dying without requiring a direct doctor referral.

“For physicians who object, whether for personal or moral reasons, a referral is akin to performing the procedure itself,” says the letter signed by the Canadian Conference of Orthodox Bishops, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, the Canadian Council of Imams and Toronto’s archbishop, Cardinal Thomas Collins, among others.

The signatories are members of the Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience.

“Whether you do something yourself or arrange that it be done by someone else (effective referral), you are causing it to happen.”

The letter also expresses concern that the College of Physicians of Ontario has suggested doctors who oppose assisted killing “should pursue pathology or plastic surgery to avoid such conflicts.”

“Bill-84 provides immunity for those who participate in ending the lives of their patients, yet no such immunity (professional or otherwise) is offered in this legislation to those who cannot participate in euthanasia and assisted suicide,” it said.

The letter urges MPPs to be mindful that freedom of conscience and religion is enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“These rights must be respected, especially in matters of life and death.”

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