The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons has amended its policy statement on the right of doctors to refuse to provide health services on the basis of their personal religious beliefs, and yesterday passed the policy unanimously.
The changes, however, are unlikely to satisfy many of the critics of the policy, who felt the college should have come to the defense of doctors rather than advise them on how to avoid a human rights complaint from a patient who is refused care.
"No right is absolute," college president Preston Zuliani said after the vote. "There are two people in a doctor-patient relationship, and both of those people have rights."
Doctors, the policy says, are expected to inform patients about treatments they won't provide, make sure patients know about all their options and to tell patients about other doctors who might help them.
"Saying that you are morally against something is not sufficient. We are not going to accept that as a defense," Zuliani said.