"An Ontario Court ruled today that doctors who oppose euthanasia must nevertheless act contrary to their beliefs and refer patients making a euthanasia request to a physician who will end their lives.
Critics say the ruling puts physicians in an “impossible position” and has ramifications for Charter rights of freedom of religion and conscience for all Ontario citizens.
Three justices of the Ontario Superior Court unanimously agreed Wednesday that the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) policy requiring doctors to 'effectively' refer patients for medical practices they conscientiously object to — notably euthanasia and abortion — does, in fact, violate their Charter right to religious freedom.
But the court ruled that in light of the goal of 'ensuring access to health care' the CPSO effective referral policy presents 'reasonable limit on religious freedom, demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.'
An effective referral is one to an accessible colleague who is willing to provide the morally objectionable 'procedure.'
Likewise, the CPSO policy requesting conscientiously objecting physicians to commit euthanasia or abortion themselves in unspecified 'emergency' situations is also reasonable, the judges held."
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