It seems the 34th meeting of the US President's Committee on Bioethics was dominated last week by discussions over a debate raging on both sides of the border: the right of doctors to refuse to provide treatments that go against their personal religious beliefs.
Debate ranged from those saying doctors must exercise judgment all the time on what treatment is best, using all factors in their decision -- including their personal beliefs -- to those arguing that doctors who can't perform certain procedures should perhaps stay out of medicine.
Clearly, there is a wide variety of opinion on this, the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons will be grappling with all of them at its meeting this Thursday as it debates a draft policy on religion and doctors. The Ontario Medical Association and the Catholic Archbishop of Toronto Thomas Collins oppose any such limits on doctors.
In the US, a California court has ruled that doctors cannot refuse treatment, based on their personal religious beliefs. US President George Bush has vowed to ensure they can.