The appeals court in Ontario has just ruled to uphold a College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario requirement that doctors in the province must give referrals for medical services including as assisted dying and abortion that violate their moral or religious beliefs.
The divisional court found the policy infringes doctors’ religious freedom, they explained the good of the public outweighs the freedom of physicians.
The Cardus Institute released the following statement - Full Text:
Rev. Dr. Andrew Bennett, Director of the Cardus Religious Freedom Institute, has released the following statement regarding today’s Ontario Court of Appeal ruling on health care workers’ conscience rights:
“Today’s decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal is a significant setback for the cause of conscience rights. Freedom of conscience is a fundamental freedom held by virtue of being human and is protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. To demand that health care workers go against their consciences for the provision of a medical service is a violation of the human dignity of those workers. There is no freestanding Charter right to any medical service in Canada. The only Charter right at issue in this case was the freedom of conscience of health care workers.
The Court’s decision treats health care workers as merely servants of the state whose conscience rights are secondary to the demands of patients. Is it not the responsibility of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario to protect its members’ human rights? As regulators in other provinces have done, the College could create an online referral system, which would direct patients to a physician who would provide a demanded medical service while still preserving the fundamental freedom of conscience of all health care workers.”