Alberta private members bill to reopen debate on physician conscience rights
Health file photo.
EDMONTON - Alberta politicians are to debate the role of conscience rights and the responsibilities of physicians asked to assist or advise on abortions, contraception or medically assisted deaths.
United Conservative backbencher Dan Williams is to introduce Thursday a private member's bill to reassert the Charter-protected freedom of conscience and religion for health providers.
Williams says the bill is in response to an Appeal Court of Ontario ruling this spring.
Ontario's high court affirmed a lower court ruling that found physicians who object on moral grounds to contentious issues like abortion must offer patients an "effective referral" to another health provider.
The court called it a fair compromise, but groups such as Canadian Physicians for Life say it is still an intolerable violation of their rights.
Currently, the College of Physicians of Surgeons of Alberta directs doctors who do not wish to provide these services to offer patients timely access to either a member or a service that can.