The debate about the rights of conscientious objectors versus the rights of patients has been going on ever since Canada legalized euthanasia back in June but this is the first time a ban on Christian doctors has been proposed so openly and by such prominent bioethicists.
While the idea may seem radical and even unconstitutional, it still has Christian doctors worried. If recent experience has taught Canada anything it’s that even the seemingly most radical proposals can turn into legislation in a matter of years, if not months.
One of the most concerning parts of the paper for Christian doctors is the section where the authors argue that a doctor’s morals and beliefs should never influence his work. In their words “Doctors must put patients’ interests ahead of their own integrity”.
If the proposals do eventually become law it would put many Christian doctors, as well as those of other faiths, in an impossible position.
They would be forced to choose between their careers and their faiths. For a country which prides itself on its anti-discrimination laws, it would be extraordinary if they passed legislation which effectively banned certain people from becoming doctors based on their chosen religion.
The authors go on to show little compassion for doctors who could be forced out of their careers saying that “If this (being forced to provide services they object to) leads to feelings of guilt, remorse or their dropping out of the profession, so be it”.
They argue that Canada does not have a shortage of doctors or those wanting to become doctors, so they can afford to be more selective with who they pick. They argue it is entirely reasonable to admit only doctors who are prepared to do everything the profession legally requires.
Proponents of the rights of conscientious objectors argue that almost every jurisdiction in the western world allows doctors to opt-out of certain procedures on moral grounds and that it would be a gross violation of their rights to force them to quit the profession or violate their own moral principles.