The National Post reported here about the new document regulating physician conduct in Ontario. It’s called “Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code” and I just read it in its entirety. But even before I read it, I knew it couldn’t be good–take a look at the reason why this new document was created. It’s to respond to changes in the Human Rights Tribunals. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario says this:
In June 2008, changes were introduced to the Ontario Human Rights system, which will provide Ontarians with increased access to the Human Rights Tribunal. This new system is expected to result in a significant increase in the number of hearings into human rights complaints made to the Tribunal… In this climate of increased awareness of human rights, the College has developed a new draft policy for consultation, entitled Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code.”
Human Rights Tribunals across the country, should the College not have noticed, have become a national embarrassment for the limitations they place on freedom of speech. Human Rights Tribunals are where people who don’t have a hope of getting their case through a real court go.
The document itself is a disaster; it apparently subjugates physicians to bureacrats at Human Rights Tribunals. The document gives those bureaucrats, those who hold physician’s livelihoods in their hands, substantial leeway to do their job. It says:
The balancing of rights must be done in context. In relation to freedom of religion specifically, courts will consider how directly the act in question interferes with a core religious belief. Courts will seek to determine whether the act interferes with the religious belief in a ‘manner that is more than trivial or insubstantial.’ The more indirect the impact on a religious belief, the more likely the courts are to find that the freedom of religion should be limited.”
But no latitude for doctors for whom “The college advises to proceed cautiously,” when it comes to their moral or religious beliefs.
There is no freedom where there is no freedom of religion. And furthermore, unless we want our doctors to become robots constantly looking up “A Code” of some sort or another, we want them to integrate their morals with their practice.
This policy is ominous, and will harm further our already flagging medical system. Ironically, it forces doctors to refer where they cannot provide care themselves—cold, cold comfort to those who can’t get a doctor in the first place, or who find themselves on waiting lists already. In practice, squeaky wheels, those professional plaintiffs, will a) get faster treatment, b) get “treatment” faster for something that is likely a social lifestyle choice, like abortion or sex changes, and c) put those nasty doctors they don’t like out of business.
These are dangerous times for people like Dr. René Leiva, quoted in the National Post story. He says:
This would put a burden on physicians like myself to conform to a view that basically puts my conscience under somebody’s else’s power,” said Dr. Leiva. “And the key aspect is moral integrity and the right of physicians to act in a way that does not harm the patient.”
And he’s right. What we have here is an open door to professional complainers to put excellent doctors through the wringer or even out of business.
I have three extraneous points to make. As a patient, should this new policy go through I’d suggest people like myself lodge a complaint for every doctor who suggests abortion when a child is diagnosed in utero with a disability or Down’s Syndrome. After all, they just put their secular faith ahead of practicing medicine by suggesting a child ought to die for disability. Not the kind of care I expect to receive and certainly, references their own religious belief.
Secondly, now is the time to push for abortion to be removed from that list of things considered “medically necessary.” We all know it’s not, and the case is made all the more compelling by the host of pro-abortion folks who have said this. Pregnancy is not a disease; abortion is not a cure. No time like the present to remove it from the roster of funded procedures.
And lastly, on funding procedures: This type of policy fiasco produced by third-rate bureaucrats who wouldn’t know medicine, morality or what it means “to be religious” if the Pope himself had a sit-down chat with them—is made worse by our socialist “health care system.” (I’ll put that in quotation marks because it appears to work best when you are perfectly healthy.) If we had a system that flourished, where patients could actually find doctors, we would not need to compel doctors to refer through “policy”—without a shortage, patients would know they could just find another one. This type of “policy” is the direct result of the fact that our system is living in a time warp shared only by North Korea and Cuba: Places, incidentally, where “Human Rights Tribunals” would thrive, too. With this type of policy we’ll see treatment for the most politically astute, the most finicky, the most ideological—those who do, I’d hazard to say, have an illness, but of a more nebulous, shall we say, mental nature.