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March 16, 2016
By: Lorna Dueck

The competing rights of freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and access to physician-assisted death are at an impasse in Canada. When the Supreme Court last year struck down Criminal Code prohibitions on doctor-assisted death, the issue of conscience rights jumped urgently into the national discussion. A religiously informed conscience complicates things further, and thousands of health-care professionals and hundreds of religiously based health-care institutions are demanding that their Charter rights be protected.

If the recommendations from the parliamentary committee for new legislation are accepted and approved by the June 6 deadline, Canada would be by far the most liberal country in the world for medical assistance in dying. It would also become the most repressive on conscience rights, because the committee recommended that conscientious objectors refer death-seeking patients to another doctor or health-care facility – something that many people informed by a sense of duty to God and neighbour cannot do.

“These positions were made without listening to the legitimate Charter rights of an affected minority group, who are mainly Christians,” said Larry Worthen of the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada.

In addition to concerns that the rights of freedom of religion and of conscience and freedom from discrimination will be denied to its Christian members, Mr. Worthen’s group has heard from Muslims and humanists worried that the legislation will violate their conscientious application of the Hippocratic Oath...


Continue reading this article on the Globe and Mail here. 



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