The Current

Doctors fight for their right to refuse care over religious beliefs

Organizations of Christian doctors across Canada think their religious beliefs have a place in the delivery of reproductive health and other medical services and they're willing to go to court to prove it. New Ontario policy says doctors must treat patients, or refer them, even if it goes against their religious beliefs.
A stethoscope lies on a table.
If religious doctors object to birth control, Christian Medical and Dental Society say they shouldn't be forced to treat the patient or refer them anywhere. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada (CMDA)  is one of two Christian doctors groups currently challenging a public health policy in Ontario, over the very moral issues the doctor was discussing there. The challenge has to do with birth control... and whether a doctor, who is also a Christian, is required to prescribe it to a patient asking for contraception, or —- as a new policy states — at least refer that patient to a doctor who will. 

Christian doctors from the CMDA are arguing that the Charter of Rights protects their right to refuse care, if that's what their conscience tells them. And they've taken their arguments to Ontario's Superior Court of Justice.... seeking to overturn the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario's position that doctors who refuse care will be disciplined.

Larry Worthen is executive director of the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada - one of the two groups challenging the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario's policy. He was in Halifax. .

We did put in a request to speak with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario - they declined to comment but pointed us to a statement which says they will vigorously defend the policy.

The College is not alone in defending a policy that requires doctors to provide care.

Timothy Caulfield is Canada Research Chair in Health Law & Policy at the University of Alberta. He was in our Edmonton Studio.

We put in a request to the Canadian Medical Association but didn't hear back.

What do you think? Should doctors be allowed to refuse care based on their religious beliefs?

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The segment was produced by The Current's Elizabeth Hoath and Sonya Buyting.