Sask. doctors to decide on how to refuse services based on moral beliefs

The College of Physicians and Surgeons has approved a draft policy in principle on how doctors can refuse services based on moral or religious beliefs.

Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians' Societies opposed to policy

A site at the Saskatoon Community Clinic has been established where health services will be provided to Syrian refugees. (CBC)

Members of Saskatchewan's College of Physicians and Surgeons approved a policy in principle today, on how doctors can refuse services based on religious or moral beliefs.                

It includes refusing to provide birth control, abortion, genetic testing and blood transfusions.

In a meeting today the College selected a draft policy that would allow doctors to refuse services based on their moral or religious beliefs but the physician would have an obligation to provide the patient with information on how to access that service.

"It doesn't prescribe the exact way of doing it. It isn't a list and you have to maintain a list. It's putting the onus back on the physician to say it is your obligation to make sure this is done but you can discuss that with the patient as to how exactly you're going to do that," said Bryan Salte, associate registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Salte said the College received lots of feedback on the subject.

Larry Worthen, executive director of the CMD's, the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians Societies and Canadian Physicians for Life, said his members are opposed to the policy.

"To ask physicians to act against deeply held moral convictions would be a clear infringement on physicians' rights to the Section 2 fundamental freedoms of conscience and religion guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms," Worthen said.

Salte said the draft policy will be posted on the College's website for further consultation with physicians and the public.

"What is attempted is to try and reconcile the interests as much as is possible. It's simply not going to be possible to have something that's going to satisfy everybody," Salte said.

The College will consider the input and make a final decision in September.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?