John Heikoop

The issue of conscientious objection is one of great weight within the medical profession. In this, there is a great difference between situations where (a) a physician would not be conscientiously willing to provide a procedure for a patient themselves but has no objection to others providing it and (b) a physician finding a procedure morally objectionable by the nature of the procedure itself as they deem it harmful to the patient. In this second situation, doctors refusing to provide a procedure they object to yet having to provide an effective referral for that procedure is, for that doctor, the equivalent of having a moral objection to over prescribing medication but having to make an effective referral to a doctor who will over prescribe. If doctors with these kinds of moral objections are forced to make effective referrals, the CPSA will be telling these doctors that they must ignore that care for a patient that is essential to a healthy practice. As such, doctors will have to either morally compromise their standards of patient care (which makes it easier to compromise their standards in other areas of their practice thereby degrading the quality of their practice) or leave the medical profession as they refuse to compromise their standards. By conflating the two kinds of conscientious objection into a single undifferentiated policy that requires effective referral is harmful to the medical system (as doctors who seek to maintain their moral standards decide to leave the practice while Alberta is seeking to relieve a shortage or doctors decide to compromise the standards of their practice) and to the patients they care for (as patients cannot find doctors and those doctors they do find may be willing to compromise the standards of their practice). Please reconsider this effective referral policy and rewrite it.

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