NRL News

“Tunnel vision and blind faith” are obliterating conscience rights in Canada

by | Apr 13, 2015

By Dave Andrusko

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario

Because the right of conscience is under siege, NRL News Today runs many, many posts about the campaign to force physicians to be involved in abortions and assisted suicides. Canada is the country where this virus is spreading with ever-increasing speed.

Sean Murphy is the administrator of the “Protection of Conscience Project.” He penned a very comprehensive op-ed which appeared today in the National Post, a leading Canadian newspaper.

The touchstone is something we have written about recently and more than once. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has adoped a policy which mandates that faced with women who want an abortion, pro-life doctors must provide an “effective referral” to a colleague who will provide the abortion, or to an agency that will arrange for it.

Failure to do so would expose a pro-life doctor to professional misconduct sanctions. Mr. Murphy updates the situation.

One piece of news I hadn’t been aware of is that

After the law passed, a Melbourne physician, morally opposed to abortion, publicly announced that he had refused to provide an abortion referral for a patient. This effectively challenged the government and medical regulator to prosecute or discipline him. They did not. The law notwithstanding, no one dared prosecute him for refusing to help a woman 19 weeks pregnant obtain an abortion because she and her husband wanted a boy, not a girl.

They obtained the abortion without the assistance of the objecting physician, and they could have done the same in Ontario. College Council member Dr. Wayne Spotswood, himself an abortion provider, told Council that everyone 15 or 16 years old knows that anyone refused an abortion by one doctor “can walk down the street” to obtain the procedure elsewhere.

  So the obvious question is…why?

Was there evidence “even a single person in Ontario has ever been unable to access medical services because of conscientious objection by a physician?” The answer is no.

Beyond the issue of the policy being rushed through, Murphy asks a  second question:

Why did the working group supply Council with deficient, erroneous and seriously misleading briefing materials — falsely implying, for example, that the Australian Medical Association supports “effective referral” by objecting physicians?


And why did the working group wait until the day before the meeting to supply Council members with an explanation of the new policy? Why has it not, even yet, published a report of the second online survey like that provided during the first?


Murphy concludes that the answer that makes the most sense (in a manner of speaking) is that the working group “if not blinded by ideological extremism, had an exceptionally bad case of tunnel vision.”

But, of course, much of this is procedural. The real issue, obviously is “the policy’s central message: that ethical medical practice requires physicians to do what they believe to be unethical. Even the worst imaginable case of tunnel vision cannot account for that kind of incoherent authoritarianism.”

Murphy ends on what was to (an outsider) an unexpected ray of hope. The Council may be compelled to answer these questions–and many others–he writes

not in the closely controlled and congenial environment of its own offices, but in open court during a lawsuit launched by the Christian Medical Dental Society. That will likely be the beginning of a long trek to the Supreme Court of Canada, one that could have been avoided had College Council properly discharged its responsibilities.

  The irony is hard to miss. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario is obliged “to protect and serve the public interest.”  To that Murphy concludes:

But the public interest is served by civility, restraint, tolerance, accommodation of divergent views and respect for fundamental freedoms. That requires broad-mindedness and evidence-based decision-making, not tunnel vision and blind faith.


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