Medically assisted dying in Ontario: limited conscientious objection for doctors

Publié le 9 Feb, 2018

On Wednesday, Ontario’s Divisional Court made its initial decision on “extending conscientious objection in a medically assisted dying context” following an appeal lodged by several Christian Medical Associations [1] contesting the obligation to send patients to a colleague practising medically assisted dying in the case of conscientious objection[2]. The judge “recognised a limitation in their freedom of conscience”, but considered it  “reasonable”. In other words, “the patients’ right to equitable access to assisted dying outweighs the potential burden of disputed regulations on physicians’ freedom of conscience and religion”.


The court refuted “virtually all” of the arguments put forward. The fact that this obligation makes objecting physicians “accomplices of an act they consider reprehensible and condemnable”,” impinges on their freedom of conscience” and causes “emotional distress and anxiety”. In addition, this provision exposes them to disciplinary sanctions and could “force them to give up medical practice in Ontario”.


One of the associations is already in the process of analysing the judgement to appeal against this decision before the highest provincial court . “We do not believe that medically assisted dying is a form of medicine and we do not think that one of our members can give a patient the hope of a cure and yet help another patient to end his/her life,” declared the Canadian Association of Physicians for Life.


For further reading:

Le Devoir, Isabelle Paré (01/02/2018); Radio Canada, Jean-Philippe Nadeau (1/02/2018)

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