Canadian Medical Association Votes: Doctors Must Refer Patients for Euthanasia

International   |   Alex Schadenberg   |   Aug 27, 2015   |   11:41AM   |   Ottawa, Canada

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) voted to rejected a motion that would protect the conscience rights of physicians who refuse to refer patients to die by euthanasia at their annual General Council meeting today in Halifax.

A media release from the CMA today stated:

Conscientious objection was a contentious issue, with 79% of delegates voting against a motion to support conscientious objectors who refuse to refer patients for medical aid in dying.

“What we expect from physicians, at a minimum, is that they provide further information to patients on all the options including the spectrum of end-of-life care and … how to access those services,” CMA Vice President of Medical Professionalism Dr. Jeff Blackmer told reporters at a press conference Aug. 26.

Yesterday, the CMA released the data from an online consultation of 1403 members which found that 63% would refuse to assist the death of their patients, 29% would assisted the death of their patients upon request and 8% were unsure.
But only 29% of the physicians who would refuse to lethally inject their patients would also refuse to refer patients to their death.

The Globe and Mail quoted Dr Jennifer Tong of Vancouver who warned:

“coercing physicians against their conscience” would damage patient-doctor relations and push some out of the profession.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition recognizes that if euthanasia and assisted suicide become legal, the only way to protect people is by protecting the conscience rights of physicians.

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When physicians have the right to say – I will not kill you – then they also have the right to say – I will protect you in your time of need. Note: Alex Schadenberg is the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and you can read his blog here.