Ontario Doctors Fight for Their Morals in Court

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by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  June 14, 2017   

John Paul II: "Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes"

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TORONTO (ChurchMilitant.com) - Ontario doctors, who refuse to refer patients for services involving abortion, contraception and assisted suicide, are now pleading their case before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

On June 8, the lawyer representing the doctors, Albertos Polizogopoulos, handed the three-judge panel a 1,000-page binder full of legal references, precedents and arguments. He then said he wanted "to keep it simple," affirming the case was about "whether the government can compel people to do things that they think are wrong."

He gave the following example to illustrate the principle of complicity recognized in criminal law, saying it should be also recognized in the issue of healthcare referrals:

If, during the break, someone comes up to me and says I'm looking to buy cocaine and I sell them cocaine, I've broken the law. We recognize that. But if I say, 'Actually, I don't sell cocaine but go see Diana,' and she sells him cocaine, I've facilitated that. And that's a crime.

Ontario has legalized physician-assisted suicide and allows regulatory colleges such as the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario to compel doctors who object to abortion, birth control and assisted suicide to write an "effective referral" for patients to receive these immoral services from a willing and available doctor.
Pushing back against the immoral directive is the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada, supported by the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians Societies, Canadian Physicians for Life and the Catholic Civil Rights League.
Ontario is the only province in Canada that doesn't allow physicians to opt out of the referral process. Other provinces have set up designated phone lines for patients seeking doctors, who would assist them in committing suicide. Doctors in Ontario want the legislature to establish a similar system that would eliminate doctors and palliative care workers from the referral process.
Polizogopoulos noted doctors firmly believe that writing an "effective referral" for a patient to receive immoral services violates their conscience. "The evidence is clear that the applicants believe the policy compels them to do something they believe is a sin, is wrong," he said.
You cannot have the government force you to violate your conscience or your religious beliefs.
The lawyer next brought up testimony from the late Pope St. John Paul II. He quoted from paragraph 73 of the Pope's 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae, which reads, "Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes, which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead, there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection."
Polizogopoulos is laying the groundwork in the three-day hearing to argue that the obligatory referral process contradicts the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. At a conference in 2016, he explained:
Every government body, which includes these regulatory colleges, is bound by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees, the first right it lists is, freedom of conscience and religion. You cannot have the government force you to violate your conscience or your religious beliefs.
In the same talk, Polizogopoulos noted that involving conscientious doctors in the referral process wasn't necessary and was therefore peculiar. "You have to say, 'I don't do it, go and see Joe; Dr. Joe will take care of it.' Well, Dr. Joe doesn't require referrals," related Polizogopoulos. "You can walk into his clinic and get it done. So why are we forcing this? Again, I think because they need the affirmation" that what they're doing is right.


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