On the one hand, my doctor’s office already has warnings up in the office about the services not provided, including that they won’t offer the birth control pill. So this seems uncontroversial from that standpoint. Doctors are already letting patients, or perspective patients, know their beliefs. On the other hand, this seems malicious. It singles out doctors who are actually providing excellent medical care as if they are subpar. I’d like, incidentally, to be warned if my doctor is the type who wouldn’t hesitate to refer for abortion.
And then, it’s one thing to let your patients know your beliefs. It’s another entirely to be forced to refer for abortions, which is wrong.
Last thing: This could be a moot point. I could barely find a GP after moving to Ottawa. In the Canadian system today, patients simply don’t get choices about which doctor to see.
Read about it here.
UPDATE: I just spoke to a solidly pro-life doctor in Saskatchewan who feels these new guidelines are not troubling. First of all, these are guidelines, not policy. A guideline falls into the realm of “what we’d like to see” not “what you must do.” That said, these guidelines seem to take into account the differing positions of pro-life and pro-choice doctors.
What the new guidelines say is that a pro-life doctor who won’t even touch the topic of abortion, period, should be up front about that. They could refer to another pro-life physician, for example. This is not about referring to an abortion clinic or a doctor who does abortions.
If I were to snap my fingers and get a medical degree today and start counselling women about their options, I certainly would be comfortable offering full information about abortion, the effects, what it does, and why it is a bad option, but also that yes, it is available without referral for anyone who can look a number up in a phonebook. The guidelines would also mean every doctor should provide a woman information about adoption and parenting; this would help immensely for all the women who are simply given the number for the nearest abortion clinic and nothing else.
So there’s two sides to this equation: There are anti-abortion doctors who conceal information in the hopes that a woman will hit the second trimester without aborting. There are pro-abortion doctors who hand out the number of the nearest clinic without doing anything else. Both offer equally poor medical treatment/advice.
I was also told by the pro-life doctor in Saskatchewan who shall remain nameless that the Star Phoenix did a better job of reporting the issue. I will link to that article at such time as it does not cause my computer to crash, as two attempts have just done, causing me to re-type this update twice now.
It’s a contentious issue. The sense I get, I am told, is that there was no malicious intent against pro-life doctors. I hope I have faithfully conveyed this conversation, because every word matters when it comes to abortion, guidelines, policy and sorting that through.
All in all, I do very much trust the Pro-Life Doctor In Saskatchewen (PLDIS) I spoke to, and if this PLDIS is not concerned, neither am I.