With news of health care restructuring and hospital mergers foremost in the thinking of many provincial governments, it is high time for a closer examination of the whole issue of conscience legislation.

At present, health care workers who have moral or religious objections to procedures such as abortion, medical experimentation or treatment withdrawal, have little recourse in law. Several groups, including Campaign Life Coalition, have been lobbying governments to come up with legislation to address this pressing need.
This is why we are encouraged by a motion introduced in the Canadian Senate which would protect health workers against coercion when dealing with procedures posing “avoidable risks” to human life.
Bill S-7, introduced by pro-life Senator Stanley Haidasz, would allow health care workers to opt out of practices to which they have a legitimate conscientious objection.
Such legislation would be especially welcomed by pro-life nurses who, due to the consolidation of many hospital obstetrical wards, find themselves called on to participate in abortion procedures. Such a case recently took place in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
As one commentator noted, “as the range of medical technologies continues to expand, the number of medical services involving potentially serious conflicts of conscience is certain to increase.”
It’s time to reemdy this delicate situation.