Canadian Medical Association urges respect for conscience rights for medical professionals

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) in their response to the report of the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying (the report) were concerned that the report required physicians, who object to killing their patients, to effectivley refer their patients to a physician who will kill. The report also requires all publicly funded healthcare facilities to permit euthanasia and assisted suicide on their premises, including hospices and religiously affiliated healthcare institutions.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition published a summary of the report.

The Canadian Press reported in an article written by Sheryl Ubelacker reported that Dr Jeff Blackmer, the CMA Vice-President of Medical Professionalism said:

The CMA, which represents about 80,000 physicians across the country, had argued during hearings to the committee that doctors who oppose assisted dying on grounds of conscience should not be required to refer patients to a colleague willing to provide or administer drugs that would end their lives.
"We were very disappointed to see it not incorporated into the recommendations,"

The CMA is proposing that physicians not be required to refer their patients to a physician who will kill, but rather that a central referral system be created. Blackmer stated:

the CMA had proposed an alternative -- the creation of a central mechanism to facilitate access to medically aided dying, which conscientious objectors could advise patients about.

According to the article, Blackmer also stated that physicians who are refusing to kill their patients have also said that they will leave Canada, if forced to refer.

Link to the full article