CPSS undermines, SCC affirms conscience rights for SK doctors

SASKATOON, March 6, 2015 /CNW/ - Several Saskatchewan physicians, including Dr. Amos Akinbiyi, Dr. Philip Fitzpatrick, and Dr. Randy Friesen, released a letter and legal brief (see below), today, describing how the conscience rights of Saskatchewan doctors are undermined by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan (CPSS) draft policy on requirements for physicians and surgeons and upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada's recent decision on assisted suicide in Carter, et al.

Said Dr. Philip Fitzpatrick, "In the recent Carter decision from the Supreme Court, they made explicit reference to conscience rights, and that physicians could not be forced to participate in an abortion or euthanasia. But the CPSS's draft policy would require me to make a formal referral to another physician where my conscience would not permit me to do those procedures, and could require me to do it myself."

The letter and brief (see below) were initiated by physicians who are members of the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada (CMDS) and the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians' Societies (CFCPS).

CPSS is circulating a draft policy that would require physicians and surgeons to make a formal referral of patients to a physician or surgeon who would be willing to perform the legally permissible and publicly funded health services, irrespective of conscience rights. If another physician were not available to perform the service, the physician would be required to provide the service, whether or not performing the service conflicted with conscience.

"The CPSS seems to be creating conflicts between medical doctors' conscience rights and patient care unnecessarily. No doctors concerned about conscience rights would put their patients' health and well-being in jeopardy. I find that patients are very appreciative of my concern for their health and of my outlining all the options and alternatives for treatment," said Dr. Friesen.

In their letter to CPSS and the accompanying legal brief, the Saskatchewan doctors outlined their concerns with the draft policy and how a few amendments to it would provide the conscience rights protections upheld by the Court.

"Saskatchewan is a dynamic province with a growing population. Saskatchewan needs physicians, especially General Practitioners. GPs would be most affected by the CPSS policy. Our province will have a hard time keeping and recruiting GPs to serve communities where they would be required by the policy as now drafted to make care decisions they believe will harm patients," added Dr. Akinbiyi.

CMDS represents more than 1600 physicians, surgeons and dentists across Canada and CFCPS is a national association of Catholic physicians' guilds, associations and societies from eleven cities across Canada.

Letter: http://goo.gl/nKi6JN and the Legal Brief: http://goo.gl/Nf3Bp7.

SOURCE Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada

For further information: Larry Worthen, (902) 880-2495

RELATED LINKS
cmdscanada.org

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