I received the following e-mail today. This issue hits close to home.
Dear Pro-Life Friends,
The National Post recently reported that the National Abortion Federation is lobbying the Canadian Medical Association to remove its "conscientious objector policy, which allows physicians to refuse to refer patients for abortions," saying that doctors should put the interests of women seeking abortion before their own "religious and moral convictions." (See article copied at the end of this email, "Doctors asked to change national abortion policy," by Melissa Leong, National Post, May 10, 2007).
Currently, the CMA's abortion policy allows doctors to refuse to make an abortion referral when such would violate their religious / conscientious beliefs. The director of ethics at CMA, Dr. Jeff Blackmer, recently clarified CMA's position in the April 24, 2007 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) after the CMA's policy was misrepresented in a guest editorial in the CMAJ last July by lawyers Sanda Rodgers and Jocelyn Downie who claimed that doctors who refuse to refer for abortion are committing "malpractice." Dr. Blackmer's letter of clarification was reprinted in the National Post on May 5 (see below).
However, according to an earlier story in the National Post, Dr. Blackmer has said that "a huge groundswell from the membership one way or another" could force a reevaluation of CMA's abortion policy. ('The "A" word: How did abortion, that most contentious of issues, become one that is simply not discussed publicly?" by Anne Marie Owens, National Post, Saturday, May 5, 2007). Within 5 days of that report, we hear that the National Abortion Federation is lobbying CMA to change its policy to take away a physician's right to freedom of conscience and religion.
What can be done:
If CMA's policy were to be changed so that doctors were compelled to make abortion referrals against their conscientious / religious beliefs, Canada may one day find itself without any practicing pro-life doctors. Canadian Physicians for Life is already in dialogue with the CMA, the CMAJ, and CPL's membership regarding this issue (and has been ever since the offending guest editorial was published in the CMAJ in July 2006). But if you, as a member of the Canadian pro-life public, are also concerned about the pressure that is currently being put on pro-life doctors to participate directly or indirectly in an abortion, please consider writing to Dr. Blackmer and to the president of CMA, Dr. Colin McMillan, the president-elect, Dr. Brian Day, and the editor-in-chief of the CMAJ, Dr. Paul Hebert, THANKING them for upholding and clarifying the CMA's abortion policy, while politely asking that the protections for doctors with respect to freedom of conscience be strengthened.
Contact info for CMA/CMAJ:
Dr. Jeff Blackmer, Executive Director, Office of Ethics (email: Jeff.Blackmer@cma.ca)
Dr. Colin McMillan, President (email: Colin.McMillan@cma.ca)
Dr. Dr. Brian Day, President-Elect (email: Brian.Day@cma.ca)
Dr. Paul Hebert, Editor-in-Chief, Canadian Medical Association Journal, (email: Paul.Hebert@cma.ca)
You might also consider copying your letter to the National Post: email@example.com ; Mleong@nationalpost.com
After you send your letter to CMA/CMAJ, we'd appreciate it if you could forward a copy of it on to us at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we have some idea of how pro-life Canadians are reacting to this issue. Thank you.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Barbara McAdorey (Administrator), on behalf of the board of
Canadian Physicians for Life
PO Box 1289
Ottawa ON K0A 2Z0
Labels: ethics, gospel of life, pro-life