The Alberta legislature is considering a private member’s bill that would protect freedom of conscience for individual health care providers and health care facilities. Brought forward by MLA Dan Williams, Bill 207 is designed to give health care providers security to act according to their conscience in their professional capacity.
We want doctors exercising their professional judgment, in line with their conscience. But some believe that professional judgment should take second place to political pressure. Bill 207 may not have enough support to pass because of the political pressure around access to services like abortion and euthanasia. Your MLA needs to hear that you support the right of doctors to practice medicine in accordance with their conscience. Call, email or visit them today!
We all have the Charter protected right to freedom of conscience, but it is becoming essential for healthcare professionals to have more explicit protection. They need to feel free from undue pressure on issues that have a politically charged nature. We don’t want them prescribing unnecessary pain medication that their patient is addicted to. We don’t want them referring for an abortion that they assess a woman is being emotionally coerced into, or offering euthanasia to a depressed elderly person. We also don’t want to force health care providers to provide or refer for these services they may be morally opposed to. This conscience protection bill aims to reinforce the professional freedom of conscience for health care providers, and should be supported.
Health care providers have professional obligations. These include respect for patients and ensuring patient care and safety is the highest priority. It also includes taking responsibility for their own behavior and ethical conduct regardless of the circumstances. This includes ensuring that no patient is abandoned. The conscience protection in this bill does not change these obligations. It means only that a health care provider may need to provide accurate information about a patient’s options, but does not need to provide or facilitate a service that he or she conscientiously objects to.
We are all better off with health care providers who have the freedom to work according to their conscience. Your MLA needs to hear this. If you live in Alberta, send a SimpleMail today and consider giving your MLA a call to let them know how important this issue is to you.