Doctors who are outraged by the Ontario Liberals plan for physician assisted suicide spoke at Queen’s Park Monday to express their concerns. The doctors claim they are forced to give a referral even if they’re morally opposed to assisted dying.
The organization looking out for Ontario doctors and the college regulating them have differing opinions when it comes to opposing medical assistance in dying. Doctors speaking out say they shouldn’t be forced to refer their patients to another doctor who is willing to help them die if they disagree with the practice.
“None of us ever envisioned whether we took our hippocratic oath 40 years ago or 4 years ago that we would one day be legislated to cooperate in the death of our patients.”
The College of Physicians and Surgeons changed its human rights policy in 2015 to force doctors to provide a referral. Medical ethicist Kerry Bowman understands the moral dilemma for doctors but says patients who are dying are vulnerable and need help. But the doctors say that goes against their own constitutional rights.
Doctors who refuse to refer patients for services on religious and moral grounds, including abortions or assisted dying, could face discipline under the college’s policy. The province says the legislation on assisted dying, Bill 84, won’t force a doctor to end someone’s life if they choose not to.
According to the minister’s office, 365 Ontarian’s chose to end their lives with medical help between June of last year when it became legal and March 30th.
Amendments to the bill have been brought forward by MPP’s to protect doctors from any disciplinary measures if they refuse to refer a patient for assisted dying. A committee looking at the changes will meet Tuesday to discuss these potential amendments.