Good Doctors vs. Bad Laws: CHP Canada Calls for Conscience Protection for Healthcare Professionals
Mon, February 29, 2016
Good morning. I’m Rod Taylor, national leader of The Christian Heritage Party of Canada. I want to speak to you today about the deep and pressing need to protect the conscience rights of Canadian citizens who may soon face crushing pressure to violate their own moral standards and beliefs. The specific Canadians to whom I refer today are doctors and other healthcare professionals but the principle applies to all Canadians in whatever vocation they are employed. The value of a clean conscience cannot be overstated and it is to satisfy my own conscience that I speak to you today, while Canadians still have a semblance of free speech. I value the right and accept the responsibility we all share of defending conscience rights for physicians and all Canadians.
I’m confident that each one of you places a high value on your own personal freedom of choice and the importance of doing the right thing according to your own deeply-held beliefs. Canadians may not always agree on what the right thing is but we have historically defended the right of every person to speak—even if we disagree with his or her message. We agree that individuals must—when possible—avoid harming others, even when doing so would be the easier, more convenient or even more profitable path. It’s never right to do what’s wrong and our consciences ought always to be our guides.
The convictions which motivate us to help others—and not hurt them—are the basis of the moral law within individuals which we refer to as conscience. To the extent that communities of people share similar convictions, communities will develop a collective conscience. The continued survival of a civilized community or nation depends on mutual respect for the personal safety, the wellbeing and the property of others, which we collectively observe as “rights”.
Canadians would agree that there are limits to individual choice and that reasonable force is sometimes required to prevent or dissuade people from doing what is wrong. That’s why we have police, sheriffs, bylaw officers, courts, prisons and fines for lawbreakers. However, most Canadians would be shocked and deeply offended to see those same tools used to force people to do what they believe to be wrong. People may argue about whether certain actions are good for society but most Canadians agree that people should not be forced to do things which violate their consciences.
To compel an individual—against his or her will—to perform acts which violate that individual’s sense of right or wrong . . . is in itself wrong. It is like rape. It is like forcing someone to betray a family member or to lie on a legal document or to steal from a friend. It’s reprehensible.
Today in Canada there are a number of issues upon which Canadians have a diversity of opinions. We differ on abortion, same-sex marriage, the use of marijuana, prostitution, gender reassignment surgery and on what our children are taught in school. These issues pose massive challenges for lawmakers and judges but even greater challenges for individuals attempting to live lawfully within a society governed by values with which they are increasingly uncomfortable . . . values which for them breach the moral code of conscience.
The Christian Heritage Party unequivocally promotes the protection of human life at all stages and we urge every politician, every lawyer and judge, every parent and caregiver, every pastor, priest and citizen to resist evil in its many forms, such as the killing of the pre-born or the elderly or infirm. However, regardless of our position on those topics or the position of those who disagree with us, the issue of conscience protection stands alone on its own merit.
There is a saying that “Silence is golden”. However, silence in the face of evil is not golden. Silence in the face of evil is complicity with evil. Enforced silence—the silence born out of fear and enslaved to political correctness—is a harbinger of greater oppressions to come and more brutal compulsions which it in fact engenders.
Today we have teachers compelled to teach as facts unproven things they do not believe. We have lawyers defending clients whom they know are guilty. We have justices of the peace compelled to issue marriage certificates to couples whom they believe can never be legitimately married in the true sense of the word. And of course, we have doctors coming under increasing pressure to perform procedures or to refer patients for procedures about which they—the doctors—have serious personal qualms. These doctors want to do what’s right. They want to live peacefully under the law. They want to provide the complex and life-saving treatments for which they have been trained. But the changing opinions of those around them and the changing expectations of others in their profession have trapped them in a blind alley. They are being told to ignore their moral compasses and to commit acts which violate their most deeply-held beliefs.
In Ontario and some other jurisdictions, the College of Physicians and Surgeons has decided that doctors practicing in the province must be willing to perform procedures like abortion, like assisted suicide, regardless of their personal convictions or, if unwilling to do so, must refer patients under their care to another doctor who will perform those procedures. This is a very dangerous step to take.
In Germany, during Hitler’s reign of terror, doctors were compelled to participate in experiments that any sane person today would regard as inhumane . . . experiments that resulted in intolerable pain and in multiple thousands of deaths. Pastors of churches who refused to condone Nazi propaganda and racial genocide and torture were themselves tortured, imprisoned or killed. Soldiers whose consciences forbade the murder of prisoners were themselves subject to imprisonment or death. Under torture and the threat of death, otherwise good and upright citizens participated in heinous deeds against humankind, the shame and guilt for which they have suffered their own torment. These people were perpetrators but they were also secondary victims of the Holocaust and their wounded consciences bear testimony even today to the tragedy of forced participation in evil.
After the war, at the Nuremberg Trials, Allied judges condemned German participants in Nazi war crimes. Allied judges did not accept as an excuse that German officers or doctors were only following orders. Instead they ruled—rightly—that individuals are responsible for their actions, that individuals ought to have obeyed the promptings of their consciences and ought to have resisted evil or at the very least, ought not to have willingly participated in it.
We in Canada have the lessons of history behind us as we face an uncertain future, using roadmaps for the conditions and the technologies of our day. Circumstances change but principles do not.
The Christian Heritage Party calls on the Prime Minister and the Government to remember the heroes of the past, the men and women who have given of themselves—some at the sacrifice of their own lives—to protect and preserve a nation and society which honour personal morality and integrity. If we want a citizenry focused on the needs of others and the rights of others, we must allow those citizens—including doctors and other healthcare professionals—to honourably carry out their duties with a clean conscience and unsullied integrity.
Of course, we in the CHP are concerned about the issues themselves, the shedding of the innocent blood of the pre-born and the newest threat unleashed by the Supreme Court, that of a nation which would permit the premature ending of any life . . . a nation which would once again talk of lives “not worth living”. Those debates are ongoing and we in the CHP will continue to fight for the protection of every human life from conception until natural death. Even while those battles rage, we believe most Canadians would support a bill protecting the conscience rights of doctors and others in the medical profession. All Canadians, including doctors and other healthcare professionals, deserve the protection of their consciences.
Without the restraint of conscience, our nation will perish. It’s never wrong to do what’s right. We call today on the Prime Minister of Canada and his government to do what’s right and enact legislation to protect the conscience rights of all in the medical profession.
Christian Heritage Party of Canada
For more information or comment, contact:
CHP Executive Director Vicki Gunn NationalOffice@chp.ca