Ontario public health policy under review, religious exception for doctors debated

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has written the current public policy, adopted by Ontario in December 2008, which binds physicians to provide Human Rights Code-mandated services without discrimination for any reason, including religious or moral beliefs of the physician.

This means that physicians cannot make decisions about whether to accept individuals as patients, whether to provide existing patients with medical care or services, or whether to end a physician-patient relationship on the basis of the individual’s or patient’s race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status and/or disability.

That code is currently being reviewed, and people are being asked to submit comment:

The College recognizes that religious and moral beliefs are central to the lives of physicians and their patients. The current policy addresses situations in which physicians’ personal, moral or religious beliefs may affect or limit the medical services they provide. The policy provides physicians with an overview of the relevant legal obligations and factors related to these situations. The policy also articulates the College’s own expectations for physicians who limit their practice, refuse to accept individuals as patients or end a physician-patient relationship on the basis of moral or religious belief.

Have Your Say

We would like to hear your thoughts on the current policy, along with suggestions you may have for how the policy could be improved.

In particular, we are interested to know:

  • Does the policy provide useful guidance?
  • Are there issues not addressed in the current policy that should be addressed? If so, what are they?
  • Are there other ways in which the policy should be improved?

Please provide your feedback by August 5, 2014.

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The feedback obtained during this consultation will be carefully reviewed and used to evaluate the draft. While it may not be possible to ensure that every comment or suggested edit will be incorporated into the revised policy, all comments will be carefully considered.

Obviously, this is a cultural touchstone for reproductive rights activists, as religious folks have primarily held the anti-abortion banner and their current assault on those reproductive rights in Canada — fully legal since Morgentaler, mind you — are presently being eroded via a series of legislation changes that allow religious doctors to refuse to provide medically-indicated services that conflict with what they believe their religion contraindicates.

We can safely assume this is entirely a concern as pertains abortion, and not some other religious mandate, because not one single instance of a Jehovah’s Witness doctor refusing to give a blood transfusion has hit the press, whereas Jehovah’s Witness patients refusing blood transfusions abound (often despite legal challenges initiated by doctors).

The issue is reportedly largely being ignored in Ontario; the religiously-motivated anti-abortionists are spreading disinformation and getting a disproportionately loud voice on what channels do exist, likely owing to the word being spread through anti-abortion camps. Since we around these parts happen to believe that women deserve basic human rights and that bodily autonomy is one of those rights, I figured it might be good to get the word out and try to tip the scales back toward the only morally justifiable stance on abortion: any time, by any woman, for any reason.

You can leave feedback here, or better yet, take the online survey.

There is also a poll, which at time of writing was already heavily tipped by others’ efforts in the atheist community:

Do you think a physician should be allowed to refuse to provide a patient with a treatment or procedure because it conflicts with the physician’s religious or moral beliefs?

No (81%, 5,575 Votes)
Yes (18%, 1,247 Votes)
Don’t know (1%, 22 Votes)
Total Voters: 6,844

Feel free to tip that even further toward the side of more perfect morality, as well!

Huge tip of the hat to George Waye. Cheers, mate.

Onoes, the religious are being bullied by Gay-Straight Alliances in Canada!!

In Ontario, there’s apparently been a bit of a row over school anti-bullying clubs naming themselves Gay-Straight Alliance, or something similar. The row comes mostly from the Catholic schools — naturally — where the proposed clubs are denied on the basis that they have the word “gay” in them, where these Catholic schools consider homosexuality to be evil, sinful, et cetera. The provincial government is debating amending the education laws surrounding anti-bullying initiatives in such a way to prevent schools from denying these clubs’ existences, so an archbishop threw a shit-fit.

“Why is a piece of provincial legislation being used to micromanage the naming of student clubs?” he said.

On Friday, the Liberal government at Queen’s Park said it would introduce legislation that would require all schools to accept clubs by that name.

[Read more...]