donate

Christian Medical and Dental Society et al v. College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario

01 June 2017
Theme:

Summary:

This case involves a court challenge of the policies of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) that require doctors to provide an effective referral for procedures against their conscientious objection, such as euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The EFC participated in a CPSO consultation on a draft policy in February 2015. In its communication to the CPSO, the EFC underlined that a referral is a professional recommendation for a particular course of action and is understood by some doctors to be the moral equivalent of providing the treatment itself. The EFC urged the CPSO to respect and protect the freedom of conscience of physicians and delete the requirement to provide a referral.

The CPSO updated its policy, Professional Obligations and Human Rights, in March 2015. The policy states, “Where physicians are unwilling to provide certain elements of care for reasons of conscience or religion, an effective referral to another health-care provider must be provided to the patient…. Physicians must provide care in an emergency, where it is necessary to prevent imminent harm, even where that care conflicts with their conscience or religious beliefs.”

The CPSO passed its policy Medical Assistance in Dying, in June 2016. The policy specifies that physicians who object to providing medical assistance in dying for reasons of conscience or religion must provide an effective referral.

The challenge of the CPSO policies was launched by five doctors and several organizations, including the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada, an EFC affiliate.

The EFC is a co-intervener in this case with the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario and Christian Legal Fellowship. Our legal factum argues that the CPSO policies violate the foundational and constitutionally protected freedom of conscience and religion. It is in the public interest to protect the freedom of conscience of health-care professionals.

This case is scheduled to be heard by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in June 2017.

Submissions

In April 2017, the legal arguments of the co-interveners the EFC, the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario and the Christian Legal Fellowship were filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in support of the legal challenge to the policy of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario requirement that doctors provide effective referrals, and in emergencies, undertake procedures that violate their consciences or religion. A constitutional challenge was launched by five doctors and the EFC affiliate Christian Medical Dental Society and two other physician’s groups. The decision could be precedent setting for how professional associations treat conscientious objection. Read the Factum here.

Outgoing Letters

In its communication to the CPSO, the EFC underlined that a referral is a professional recommendation for a particular course of action and is understood by some doctors to be the moral equivalent of providing the treatment itself. The EFC urged the CPSO to respect and protect the freedom of conscience of physicians and delete the requirement to provide a referral.