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The Canadian Medical Association’s abortion policy is self-serving and lethal. BY Stephanie Gray Tweet In a contradiction of great proportion, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has passed a motion to foster a public debate on end-of-life care, yet they are closed to debating when the very lives some doctors may end first began. The Globe and Mail reported, At the general council meeting of the [CMA] on Wednesday, delegates called on the federal government to reject attempts by a Conservative backbench MP to amend the Criminal Code so that a fetus is defined as a human being. The CMAs own report said that Quebec physician, Dr. Genevieve Desbiens, who brought the motion, said the aim was to prevent a backdoor attempt to reopen the abortion debate. What is she afraid of? Canadians realizing that where you are does not determine what you are? Canadians realizing that since the pre-born are human and abortion slaughters those humans, that any physician involved with killing would be, uh, I guess guilty of killing? That wouldnt reflect so well on the profession that is supposed to shed blood to heal, not shed blood to kill. And people might want to pick another doctor. Oh waitthey would be forced to, for the doctor wouldnt be available to practice medicine from jail. And it seems incarceration is a concern for this Quebec physician: The Globe reported that Dr. Desbiens also warned that doctors who counsel or provide abortion services could become criminals. Wait a minute: If the pre-born are human, and if abortion dismembers, decapitates, and disembowels those humans, whats wrong with classifying those who do the cold-hearted deed as criminals? Dr. Desbiens attitude is self-serving and lethal. Dont consider whether abortion kills the youngest of our kind. No, just make sure you dont put her or her profession-betraying friends in jail. That wouldnt be very nice. Just let them continue to shred the youngest of our kind in peace. Delivering babies involves working at all hours of the night; killing them, however, is a quick way to make cash during regular business hours. If some physicians wish to choose the latter instead of the former, shouldnt they be allowed? Actually, not according to the CMAs Code of Ethics. Clause 9 of their Code clearly states that physicians must refuse to participate in or support practices that violate basic human rights. And the right to life, which abortion violates, is guaranteed in both our Charter as well as the UNs Declaration of Human Rights. Further, the UNs Declaration of the Rights of the Child goes so far as to say the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth. The UN considers that prenatal protection is so important, that in article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a document it adopted, it says capital punishment shall not be carried out on pregnant women. What makes a pregnant woman different from a non-pregnant one? The existence of another individual. And this is where Dr. Desbiens would do well to read her own code of ethics. In Policy 4 of the Quebec Code of Ethics of Physicians it says, A physician must practice his profession in a manner which respects the life, dignity, and liberty of the individual. Now perhaps Dr. Desbiens would say the pre-born arent individuals. Well if they arent, then what are they? And how is her definitionsiding with the Criminal Codethat they arent human until out of the mothers body, at all scientific? She would do well to also heed Policy 6 of the code which says, A physician must practice his profession in accordance with scientific principles. Science clearly teaches that if something is growing its alive, and if you have human parents you are human offspring. Science teaches that life begins at fertilization. Finally, it is worth noting that while some physicians seem okay with killing children, most are not okay with mutilating them: Consider the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC and Ontario which have policies against female circumcision. Ontario goes so far as to say performance of, or referral for, [female genital cutting/mutilation] procedures by a physician will be regarded by the College as professional misconduct. Lets get this straight: Its professional misconduct to mutilate but okay to decapitate? Stephanie Gray is the co-founder and executive director of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform, and author of A Physicians Guide To Discussing Abortion . This op-ed is reprinted with permission from UnMaskingChoice.ca .
Anna Reid, after a panel discussion on the issue. This is the reason were having the debate society is leading the debate and we feel as physicians we need to actually start finding out what our members feel. Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose, who spent the day at the convention, acknowledged that doctor-assisted suicide is an emotional issue for many Canadians, but she said her government isnt planning changes to laws that make euthanasia and assisted suicide illegal in Canada. You know all of us think about the issue because we have elderly grandparents and elderly parents and I think it is on the mind of many because Quebec has introduced their legislation, Ambrose said. Parliament voted in 2010 to not change its position on this issue so, at this time, we dont have any intention of changing our position. Its not surprising that these kinds of debates are happening within the physician community. The Quebec government plans to hold public hearings in the fall on its controversial right-to-die legislation, which was tabled earlier this year. The bill essentially outlines the conditions necessary for someone to get medical assistance to die. The legislation followed a landmark, bipartisan committee report tabled in 2012 that suggested doctors be allowed in exceptional circumstances to help the terminally ill die, if that is what the patients want. The federal government says it will review Quebecs legislation, setting the stage for a possible showdown between Ottawa and the provinces sovereigntist government. Quebec argues that delivery of health-care services lies within provincial jurisdiction and maintains it is on firm legal ground with the bill the first of its kind in Canada. The president of the Quebec Medical Association was involved in Mondays debate, saying his province is ahead of the rest of the country on the issue. Medical aid in dying is a medical service thats within the continuity of life care. Its aimed at helping the patient die under strict conditions at the patients request, said Dr.
But the issues will be high on the agenda at the CMAas general council meeting later this month in Calgary, with a special session devoted entirely to end-of-life care. Euthanasia involves aknowingly and intentionallya performing an act a usually administering a lethal injection of barbiturates a with the sole intention of ending a life. With physician-assisted suicide, the doctor provides a patient with the knowledge or means, or both, required to commit suicide, including acounselling about lethal doses of drugs, prescribing such lethal doses or supplying the drugs,a according to the CMAas current policy, which was last updated in 2007. aEuthanasia and assisted suicide are opposed by almost every national medical association and prohibited by the law codes of almost all countries,a the policy reads. aA change in the legal status of these practices in Canada would represent a major shift in social policy and behavior.a The issue has taken on new immediacy with Quebecas move this summer to become the first province in the country to introduce a law that would protect from prosecution or jail doctors who offer the terminally ill medical assistance to die. In June, Quebecas Parti Quebecois government introduced Bill 52, an act respecting end-of-life care, which sets out the rules that would allow terminal palliative sedation as well as amedical aid in dying.a Under the bill, only a patient of legal age and capable of giving consent and who is suffering from an incurable illness and aconstant and unbearable physical or psychological paina would be permitted to seek a doctor-hastened death. Canadaas Criminal Code prohibits euthanasia and assisted suicide, stating that, ano person can consent to have death inflicted upon him.a The issue is now before the courts: The federal government is appealing a B.C. court ruling that last summer struck down Canadaas ban on doctor-assisted suicide, ruling it unconstitutional and granting a woman dying of Lou Gehrigas disease the right to seek a doctoras help in ending her life. Itas not a request Dr. John You has ever been faced with. aI personally am uncomfortable with the idea, but I know itas something that weall need to have a societal debate about,a said You, an associate professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., and a member of the Canadian Researchers at the End of Life Network. He said he worries the emotionally charged issue will overshadow the urgent need for better access to quality, end-of-life care for Canadians. In a recent article published in the journal Nature, Dr. Harvey Max Chochinov, Canada research chair in palliative care, said the culture of medicine alargely ignores death and tends to abandon patients when cure is no longer viable.a aIf weare really, as a society, considering changing legislation that is going to allow for assisted suicide, it almost seems unfathomable that we would go that route before we have any obligation to be providing everyone quality, end-of-life care,a he said in an interview. Chochinov is piloting a study, funded by the Canadian Cancer Society, of whatas known as the Patient Dignity Question. The simple question a aWhat do I need to know about you as a person to give you the best care possible?a a is meant to help doctors and palliative care teams provide more empathetic care to the terminally ill.