The Call to Conscience Campaign was launched by the Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience to urge Ontario residents to lobby their MPPs to get them to amend Bill 84, the provincial government’s “Medical Aid in Dying Statute Law Amendment Act,” which has no protection for the conscience rights of health care workers.
Bill 84 is expected to be debated over the next few months, but the campaign runs until March 31.
College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario policy compels physicians who conscientiously object to assisted suicide, euthanasia or abortion to provide a so-called effective referral for their patients to a willing colleague. Bill 84 says nothing about conscience rights.
The Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience states: “Despite limited conscience protection in federal legislation (Bill C-14) and freedom of conscience enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the CPSO has abandoned thousands of doctors who cannot provide referrals for medical assistance in dying.”
Larry Worthen, executive director of the Christian Medical and Dental Society and spokesman for the Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience, said in a press release that many physicians consider such referrals complicity in assisted suicide, leaving many doctors “in a serious conflict – whether to choose their conscience or their career.”
The Coalition states on its website, “those who cannot support assisted suicide or euthanasia because of their conscience, faith, or commitment to the Hippocratic Oath could be forced to compromise their convictions. They shouldn’t have to.”
The Call to Conscience Campaign asks Ontarians to write or meet their MPP to talk about conscience rights, as well as to initiate larger presentations to groups in their homes and congregations. The CanadiansforConscience.ca website has resources including documents, posters, videos, and social media tools, to help inform and activate concerned citizens.
When The Interim went to press at the beginning of March, Progressive Conservative MPP Monte McNaughton (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex) was the only elected official in the province to speak up for conscience rights at Queen’s Park.
The Call to Conscience Campaign is endorsed by the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario, the Ontario Knights of Columbus, the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, and Campaign Life Coalition.
Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, told LifeSiteNews, “a doctor who does not believe in killing is not going to stay in Ontario when they’re told they have to be involved in killing.”
Jeff Gunnarson, vice president of Campaign Life Coalition, said, “it’s deeply disturbing that in Ontario doctors are being forced to cooperate with killing people either by euthanasia and abortion.”
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada said in a statement: “we believe no one should be compelled to participate directly or indirectly in the taking of a human life. Doctors and other healthcare workers must not be compelled to participate in ways that violate their deeply-held beliefs.”
Alain Cayer, Ontario state deputy of the Knights of Columbus, said in a statement, “sadly, in Ontario, health care workers who object to helping a patient end their life may be forced to participate in the procedure, even if it goes against their conscience or moral convictions. It could force them out of healthcare.”
Each organization is urging their supporters to contact their MPPs and to organize small groups to activate their family, friends, and fellow church-goers to speak up for conscience rights.