Faith Today: It has been legal since June for
patients to request physician-assisted suicide
and euthanasia in Canada. The legislation
doesn’t require physicians or nurses to provide
physician-assisted death. But when it comes to
conscience protection for doctors who do not
want to refer patients for physician-assisted
death, the regulations differ from province to
province. Can you explain to our readers what
you are doing on these issues?
Larry Worthen: There are two tracks to this.
We are doing two things at the same time.
We’ve formed The Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience. That is our advocacy track. We have ten members, including the EFC, the Salvation Army and
others. We’re currently in the process of
meeting with Ontario MPPs. Physicians
themselves are meeting with MPPs to talk
about the dilemma they are in with the
requirement that they must refer.
Our doctors are being forced to choose
between their career and their conscience.
They are unable to refer, yet the College
of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario
(CPSO) is requiring that, which means
that if any of them were to get a complaint
from a patient because of this, they could
be investigated and disciplined for refusal
We’re meeting with MPPs from all
three parties. We’ve found support within
all major parties, particularly the Conservatives and the NDP, and also some
individual support from Liberal MPPs. We
want the provincial Ministry of Health
and Long-Term Care to create an alternative access route so these doctors won’t be
penalized because of their faith.
All that is happening at the same time
that three of the partners, along with five
Ontario doctors, have taken the CPSO to
court. Four of those doctors are Evangelicals, one is Catholic. They are fighting
this policy relating to euthanasia and
abortion. We have a court date set for the
first week of February.
F T: Why should people who live outside Ontario
LW: We need to know that Ontario and
possibly Quebec are the only two provinces
that require effective referral. No other
jurisdiction in the world where euthanasia
is legal requires effective referral.
People have asked me why I think the
college is requiring it. I’m not sure be-
Larry Worthen is executive director of the Christian Medical
and Dental Society of Canada, an organization that has
stepped up to try to protect the conscience rights of
Canadian doctors who have religious objections to physician-assisted suicide. He spoke with Faith Today about what
we need to know on this issue, what we can do and why it
matters so much.