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.


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.

Why are YOU here?

I’ve had this question rattling around in my head for almost a year now: why am I here, in the skeptical and atheist communities? Why do I include the labels “skeptic” and “atheist” in bio blurbs, and why do I cover topics and follow discussions associated with those labels? Why, given how little commonality I have with many of the folks who work full-time in these communities, given that some of the causes I care about the most are derided by vast swathes of the people with whom I’m expected to break bread, should I spend my time and effort on parts of my identity that I don’t find assaulted on a daily basis?

And more importantly, why are others in these communities? What do their reasons for being here say about the makeup of these communities?
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You rolled a natural twenty! Go straight to hell!

Apparently someone thought enough of Jack Chick’s original tract that they decided to run a Poe-alarm-tweaking Kickstarter to get this movie made. Seriously, this thing is self-parodying, so I cannot tell if this JR Rails character is doing this in earnest, or as a parody. But either way, with the amount of money the Kickstarter made, we can expect such gems as this:

Stretch Goal #2: $21,000 – One of the most powerful ways to get across the powerful emotions that a serious drama like this raises is through song. I’d like to include a dream sequence where Debbie visualizes her internal struggle through verse:

(Debbie, in a sad, thoughtful singsong:)
“Is this God in my hand, or is it just a d4?
Oh can anyone tell me what I’m rolling for?
Are there traps and daggers, magic missiles galore?
No, this ain’t God in my hand, it is just a d4.”

(Ms Frost, cackling:)
“You have mastered the magic, you have mastered the spell,
You are ready to unleash the powers of hell!
You have God in your hand, and you have your d4.”
Now I hope that you know what you’re rolling for.”

Do Christians still get all jimmie-rustled over Dungeons and Dragons? Really? Its popularity explosion was a passing fad and an unnecessary moral panic, sadly. Now the kids are all about their Pokeymans and their hairy potters.

Hat tip to James.

UPDATE: Sasha Pixlee’s sharp eyes and incredible stamina for scrolling on monolithic websites clued him in to something I missed — he points out that if you go to the homepage and read the FAQs carefully, it’s pretty plain that it’s a satire-and-parody claiming honest representation by virtue of what Chick actually believed. It’ll only read as parody to us because it’s already so outlandish. Dude’s one of us, going for “very earnest Poe”.

Get ‘Hug an Atheist’ movie to festivals!

A short note from Sylvia Broeckx alerted me this morning to the existence of this fundraiser, and I thought you might be interested yourselves.

We’ve made a film about atheists in the USA and it’s from the perspective of everyday atheists, dealing with the aspects of life where religions provide solace and guidance such as morality, raising a family, and coping with tragedy.

But, what’s the point of making a film that presents atheism in a positive light, if it doesn’t get seen by lots of people that aren’t already atheists?

We have less than 48 hours to raise the funds to help get this film to into festivals and reach a wider, non-atheist, audience. We are getting close, but could really do with your help to spread the word about the campaign. It can really help make quite the difference.

Here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/l/4AQFgLytCAQGFaAawhvRzRDM6lOjdjo8rNBIiWxfmgklJ3Q/www.indiegogo.com/projects/get-hug-an-atheist-to-festivals

Thank you!


The teaser trailer should tell you everything you need to know about this effort:

The Indiegogo fundraiser is at $2696, having met its original goal of $2500. But submitting the film to most film festivals costs a lot of money and there’s no guarantee it’ll get accepted thereafter, so I’d encourage that if you have spare cash to throw at such an effort, please do keep submitting!

What Does the Donkey Say

Some Christians just can’t leave well enough alone, apparently. They have to Jesusify even weird meme songs like What Does The Fox Say. The River Christian Reformed Church is responsible for this particular mess.

Wow. Really, wow. May your god have mercy on your souls and not throw you in the pits of eternal suffering for making bad things worse.

If you want to see the equally ridiculous but less offensively Christified version, go here instead. Hat tip to Christian Nightmares.

Happy holidays, everyone!

A Dynasty Falls

And good riddance.

Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty reality television show, recently did an interview in GQ — yes, Gentlemen’s Quarterly — wherein he described how his evangelical Christian beliefs come into conflict with the idea that some people might be gay in an absolutely offensive display of what many Christians really do believe. His TV show on A&E about his family of conservative rednecks — who became rich after he built an empire on the Duck Commander duck lures — now faces the terrible wrath of public opinion.

When my sister heard the news that he’d given his interview in GQ, and that GLAAD had publicly denounced his words, she posted a link on her Facebook wall. One of her friends — an ex co-worker apparently — swanned in to drop this steaming pile of opinion on her wall about how terrible it was… that anyone was asking A&E to reconsider hosting this douchenozzle’s opinion.
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The reason for the season: persecution complexes

Everything Is Terrible found a video about the persecution complex Christians have about Christmas, and they want you all to watch it.

Let’s count up the implausibilities. First, that anyone would make laws forbidding Christmas or Christian personal effects under any circumstances. Second, that someone would actually get fired for violating the Establishment Clause in a country that seems to love having public figures flout it publicly. Third, that anyone is actually attacking Christmas as a public holiday. Fourth, that a biker gang would be necessary to help lift a cardboard cross up to a building, or that lifting a five foot cross up the side of a building is even the best way of getting it to the top. Fifth, that a video ending with the main subject of the video getting blown up, and the cameraman too, would somehow be considered acceptable to display unscreened at a nativity play. Sixth, that Aron Ra would play God.

Okay, that last one, he might do it tongue-in-cheek.

You poor Christians, making up the majority of your country, are being persecuted, just by being forced to acknowledge that you don’t make up the ENTIRETY of your country and that forcing your religion on the rest undermines the whole reason your country was founded? Hah.

Nobody’s preventing you from worshipping privately however you want. The Establishment Clause just means you can’t do it on government grounds, using government taxpayer-derived funds, or in a way that encourages your religion over any others while doing work that nets you government pay, to steal Crip Dyke’s wording in comments. That’s not an abrogation of your rights — it’s a protection of them. And I know you get this, viscerally, because you absolutely hate the idea of a Muslim or, heavens forbid, an atheist in office. If you try to allow your government to enshrine your religion within it, that’s when you risk losing the most should some other person of some other religion comes into power.

Ascension of the Jackdaw

So, Assassin’s Creed 4. You’re a pirate. It’s kinda awesome, though I’ve mostly so far only watched Ben play it rather than playing it myself. But like all games, there are glitches.

This one was amazing.

Yes, the choral music was added as a joke.

I love glitches like these in games because they illustrate a topic I always find interesting: emergent behaviour. These actions were not specifically programmed, but came out of something askew being input in some variable in all the existing equations that under normal circumstances worked perfectly sanely. It’s like how Newtonian physics works in most cases, until you get into cases near light-speed or around black holes, where you need special relativity because something wacky happens to the calculations. This was something very wacky happening to the calculations despite all the calculations working perfectly elsewhere.

The whole damn universe is a set of emergent properties for a very simple and very fundamental ruleset that probably is itself a result of some other extradimensional brane-collision or fold in the fabric of the multiverse. Time itself is an emergent property of the existence of our universe. Physics and chemistry and life, all emergent. This sort of complexity emerging from simpler rulesets is exactly why people are so frequently inclined to assume Goddidit.
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