What’s Wrong with the World

The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.


What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

Saskatchewan Doctors' association wants to force doctors to perform abortions

Wesley J. Smith links to a draft ethics statement by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewa​n that, if made official, would require physicians to perform legally permissible "services," including abortion, even if against their consciences.

The statement says at first that they may refuse to do so, but only if they provide a referral to another physician who will perform the service, and provide in a timely fashion. This is bad enough. (Victoria, Australia, already has such a policy in place.) But the statement then goes on to say that the physician must provide the service himself if no one else can be found to provide it without a delay that would be bad for the patient's "health or well-being." The distinction between health and well-being is significant. As Smith points out, this would doubtless be used to imply that psychological harm would come from delaying an abortion or euthanasia, which would mean in effect that the doctor would be required to perform the abortion himself if he couldn't find someone else to do it right away.

Finding someone else to do it would be cooperation with evil in any event, but this goes a step farther even than that.

I note, too, that the services can be requested by an incompetent patient's surrogate decision-maker. So a doctor could presumably be required to abort the child of a minor at the demand of a parent, for example.

Ironically, this evil policy could have a few accidental good effects if it were applied to providing a feeding tube to patients who want it or whose decision-makers want it for them. But I am sufficiently cynical that I seriously doubt that it will be applied to keeping people alive. Even if it were ever thus applied, of course that would be greatly outweighed by the enormous evil of forcing doctors at other times to make people dead.

Cue the leftists implying that making people dead is "part of the job" and that you shouldn't become a doctor if you aren't prepared to "perform your job." They're doing it already in Wesley's comments. As though tearing babies apart or giving lethal injections were just a part of the medical profession! (This might be a good time to reflect on the fact that the practice of medicine is inevitably based on value judgements if it is to be of any use at all.)

I have little hope that this ethics statement will not be adopted, and if it is, presumably the penalty for refusing to cooperate would be losing one's medical license. If I am right, then soon it will be time for doctors in Saskatchewan to take that risk.

Comments (15)

Boy, global warming can't happen soon enough to help thaw out the brains of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewa​n.

I'd venture to guess that the penalty for refusing to comply would ultimately go beyond merely losing one's license to practice medicine; that it would involve criminal charges, large fines and jail time, given the inevitability that someone or other at some point is going to take her own life in an act of desperation following a physician's decision not to comply with either mandate in her particular case. Then there's always the civil suits that would be brought in such cases later on.

It would probably depend on whether the guidelines got put into criminal law directly concerning medical practice or only were enshrined in professional association guidelines. If the latter, then what would happen is that the pro-life doctors would be hounded out of the profession and would be sent to jail for practicing without a license if they continued to practice after their licenses had been pulled.

A big irony to me is that, as written, the guidelines _should_ similarly penalize any doctor who removes a feeding tube without permission from the patient or guardian or even who refuses to perform the "legally permissible service" of _inserting_ a feeding tube, by PEG surgery if necessary, when requested. After all, those are legally permissible services as well, and doctors are refusing to perform them as "futile care" all over the world.

But I'm not holding my breath that it would ever be interpreted in that way. To my mind the wording makes it clear that the association wants to punish pro-life doctors who refuse to perform abortion and euthanasia.

They may be able to squirrel out of it on the grounds of specialization: "I'm not an OB-GYN, so I lack the ability and training to perform this procedure." But in that case they would _have_ to refer to an OB-GYN who would do it, and it would drive all the pro-lifers out of the OB-GYN specialty.

I wonder if it will ever come to med schools making a rotation at an abortion clinic to be a core requirement. Maybe instead of asking if, I should be asking how long until this happens somewhere.

In the U.S., in New York City, all med schools are already required to offer abortion training as a normal part of the medical course. I believe CA has a similar provision. Students can cite moral or religious grounds to opt out, so it is not _strictly_ mandatory, but some of course will not do so if they are "on the fence" or don't have a well-worked-out pro-life position. So it is already in one sense a core requirement in those places.

I've been looking at the policy statement again, and it refers somewhat vaguely to a possible "lawful excuse" for not providing a requested service, and gives as an example if a patient requests a procedure that will not achieve the goal that the patient seeks.

This is all rather ridiculous, because it leaves up in the air all sorts of absurd demands that *of course* doctors in Saskatchewan are not going to be forced to accede to. Suppose that a patient's goal is to experience what it's like to go through open-heart surgery, even though the patient is perfectly healthy. Then the heart surgery will accomplish the patient's goal, but it's a non-medical goal. But of course a doctor isn't required to provide a referral for heart surgery under those circumstances.

So the "lawful excuse" reference looks like a kind of vague loophole which regulatory bodies or courts can decide to apply as they wish. My guess is that it can be manipulated in such a way that obviously absurd requests (such as the needless heart surgery) won't be required and that doctors will be allowed to refuse as medically inappropriate life-saving treatments that they don't want to give, even when effective. But killing a patient, though _obviously_ medically inappropriate (!) will, my guess is, be required if the patient meets some made-up criteria. And of course a doctor won't be able to say that an abortion is medically inappropriate on the grounds that it kills a baby and harms the mother by interrupting the biologically normal progression of a pregnancy, though this is a perfectly reasonable medical judgement.

The Supreme Court of Canada just decided today that folks have a right to be killed by their physicians if they so desire it. According to the CBC, "Doctors, however, are by no means compelled to help patients end their lives. The court leaves that up to the professional colleges that regulate medicine."

Sometimes I really think WJ Smith is a prophet. He predicted that this would happen. It's also pretty obvious that the Saskatchewan physicians' college issued this statement in anticipation of such a ruling with the intent that it would apply to terminating patients. That, too, Smith predicted a few days ago when he put up this story about the ethics statement.

"The Court leaves that up to professional colleges that regulate medicine."

Uh oh!

This is interesting:


I was unfamiliar with the "notwithstanding clause" in Canada's Charter of Rights.

The petition has gained roughly 5,000 signatures since I checked it yesterday evening, after you posted the link.

The notwithstanding clause can be invoked for a period of five years, after which a law passed notwithstanding the Charter would have to be re-enacted. It cannot be used to override democratic rights, which include the right to elect members of the House of Commons at least once every five years.

The danger of using the clause to "override" the court's ruling is that if the move is unpopular it might cause you to lose the election scheduled for October and that leaves the crafting of "right to die" legislation to your opponents.

This is a sufficiently massive crisis and evil ruling by the court that I think the legislature should definitely use the power thus given to it. If one never uses one's constitutionally granted powers for good because of fear of losing later on, one might as well just give up now, because they can use that argument against pretty much anything good that the good guys might want to do! "Just be like us and don't do anything good, otherwise you might lose, and then you wouldn't have any power to do good anymore." Doesn't make much sense.

Not out of fear of losing the election, but out of fear of letting the other guys write the law the supreme court has basically mandated be written.

Since the ruling won't take effect for 12 months, invoking the clause and losing the election saves precisely nobody. (You could always invoke it and override your own law after winning the election.)

I think they should refuse to write the law. It's important not to get so "strategic" that one ends up doing something objectively evil. Writing a law that puts legal assisted suicide into place would be such an act.

Post a comment

Bold Italic Underline Quote

Note: In order to limit duplicate comments, please submit a comment only once. A comment may take a few minutes to appear beneath the article.

Although this site does not actively hold comments for moderation, some comments are automatically held by the blog system. For best results, limit the number of links (including links in your signature line to your own website) to under 3 per comment as all comments with a large number of links will be automatically held. If your comment is held for any reason, please be patient and an author or administrator will approve it. Do not resubmit the same comment as subsequent submissions of the same comment will be held as well.