Sunday, December 28, 2014

Professional Obligations and Human Rights - An Anti-Life Policy From Ontario's College Of Physicians And Surgeons

The CPSO Draft Policy, Saint Pope John Paul II and The Catechism of The Catholic Church

If the title of this blog post intrigues you I hope you will consider reading further on because there is an urgent need to respond to the increasing moral disorder in Canada and help restore Canadian society to a "culture of life." The "increasing moral disorder" comes from the policy development efforts at the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons (CPSO). Currently under review is a draft policy, Professional Obligations and Human Rights, which fails to identify and protect the most fundamental aspect of human rights, the right to life. In addition, the college sets out certain guidelines and expectations that direct its members to act against their conscience should a "health care service" conflict with moral or religious beliefs. This is an attack on the freedom of conscience which is not only completely unacceptable, but spotlights the college's additional failure to recognize another basic human right, the right to refuse to take part in committing an injustice. With abortion and contraception legally available, many aspects of this draft policy are cause for great concern for Catholics and all people of good will. Today's post seeks to identify what is morally wrong with this draft policy from a Catholic perspective and encourage action to support and stand by our doctors.

What is at stake here is not only the lives of defenceless, innocent unborn children in the womb and the freedom of conscience for doctors, but the loss of future opportunities for young conscientious Catholics students and others of good will, to become doctors in Ontario. Any approval of this draft policy will certainly deter such students from pursuing a career as a physician or surgeon. After reading this draft, one gets the impression that the aim is to not only restrict those doctors who currently act upon their freedom of conscience, but to possibly even drive them out of the medical profession. Should all this come into effect, what choices would Catholic patients have, who want a doctor of good conscience that will make medical decisions in accord with the Catholic faith? This current draft policy discriminates against all those who are Catholic and pro-life. If approved, it becomes a foundation with which to implement disciplinary penalties and persecute doctors on a professional level who refuse comply with the policy.

I originally took an interest in the subject matter of today's post while on pilgrimage in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina this past summer. Back in July'2014 as I was having my usual morning cappuccino and danish, I decided to visit to see what was going on in Canada. There was an article whose title intrigued me, Is the Ontario College of Physicians trying to clamp down on doctors' freedom of conscience. Upon reading it, I was astonished to discover that the CPSO had drafted and published a policy in 2008, that strongly discouraged freedom of conscience. That policy was given the title, Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code. The college's strong discouragements can be found under the subheadings of: Moral or Religious Beliefs, Ontario Human Rights Code: Current Law and College Expectations. The policy cover page states that it was to be reviewed in September 2013. As part of the review process, an "external consultation" was held in 2014, between June 4th and August 5th that welcomed the general public to provide feedback. This is in part why Lifesitenews had published the aforementioned article in June of this year, encouraging the public to get involved and provide input as to how the policy could be corrected and improved upon. Being on pilgrimage, my mind was focussed elsewhere and I was not going to delve into this issue, but I certainly took note of it for future reference. Today I have decided to take action and I hope you will be encouraged to do likewise.

What further drew my attention to this issue and has prompted me to take action is another article published earlier this month from LifeSiteNews, an update to the CPSO's policy development entitled, BREAKING: Ontario College approves draft policy forcing doctors to provide abortions, contraceptives. Since the summer, the CPSO developed a revised draft policy to the existing one from 2008, and has given it a new title Professional Obligations and Human Rights. Currently the CPSO is holding another external consultation on this new draft policy, welcoming public input at their web site up until a deadline of February 20th, 2015.

If you have not been aware of the CPSO's policy development or have yet to respond to it, the current external consultation will now afford you an opportunity to do something about it. Any conscientious Catholic who values human life, who wants to help protect and save the unborn children from abortion, and the elderly and anyone else from euthanasia and who considers it essential that freedom of conscience be available for doctors, needs to get involved and provide their input to the CPSO's web site. This draft policy is a clarion call to Catholic communities and all people of good will, to speak out and stand by our doctors. What this requires is: prayer and fasting, a sincere desire to help, some reading and the collection your thoughts to be communicated by email, an online forum and/or survey. Providing your feedback is simply a matter of putting faith into action. To quote scripture, "What good is a faith that does nothing in practice. It is thoroughly lifeless." (James 2:17) The policy development efforts at the CPSO is part of the battle against the "culture of death" and it can conveniently be fought from within the comfort of your own home.

Reading the Professional Obligation and Human Rights draft policy document sets off alarm bells right from the beginning. For example, there is language adopted from the gay agenda and its propaganda such as on lines 4-6 which states, "The fiduciary nature of the physician-patient relationship requires that physicians act in their patients' best interests. In doing so, physicians must strive to create and foster an environment in which rights, autonomy, dignity and diversity of all patients, or those seeking to become patients, are respected. The inclusion of "diversity," is totally unnecessary given the preceding words on this list. 

Moving down to lines 24-26, where it states, "Properly managing conflicts, especially where the physician's values differ from those of their patients, or those seeking to become patients. The patient's best interests must remain paramount." The patient's "best interests" is ambiguous and can be interpreted to mean the inclusion of anti-life acts and practices such as abortion and contraception.

Further on at lines 37-41 is another example of the adoption of gay propaganda language. The policy states that, "The Code articulates the right of every Ontario resident to receive equitable treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination on the grounds of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability." This might be the language of the Code, but "gender identity and expression" should have never been included in the draft policy. Such wording does not reflect the truth and reality of the human person. An individual's sex is not determined by desires, perceptions or feelings. A person is either male or female and for anyone to deny this reality and consider themselves contrary to what is biological true, is to give way to delusion and deception.

The current draft policy's inclusion of "diversity, gender identity and gender expression," are new inclusions that the 2008 policy, Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code, did not list. These new inclusions are elements of gender ideology, which have no place in the draft policy. For those who are new to "gender ideology," I would like to quote a pastoral letter from the Polish Bishop's Conference, issued in 2013, on the feast of the Holy Family:
This ideology promotes principles that are totally contrary to reality and an integral understanding of human nature. It maintains that biological sex is not socially significant and that cultural sex which humans can freely develop and determine irrespective of biological conditions is most important. According to this ideology, humans can freely determine whether they want to be men or women and freely choose their sexual orientation.
Poland has experienced the introduction of gender ideology in many spheres of society. As the pastoral letter from the Polish Bishop's notes, gender ideology has been "introduced into different structures of social life: education, health service, cultural and education centres and non-governmental organisations." Canada has experienced much of the same, which the current draft policy's inclusion of gender ideology elements is but one of many examples to draw from.

The college seems to set the ground work for removing freedom of conscience with its references to the Ontario Human Rights Code's definition of discrimination at lines 42-47. Immediately following this section are the college's "expectations" lines 48-55, regarding any decision relating to the provision of "health care services." A somewhat ambiguous expectation is on line 52, "Providing existing patients with healthcare or services." This is open to interpretation as to what "health care services" actually include. This of course can be problematic for Catholics, who in good conscience, can not directly or indirectly provide "health care services," that are in conflict with the teachings of the Catholic Church, such as abortion, euthanasia and contraception. Such anti-life acts or practices can never be equated with "health care services." To do so not only ignores the dignity of the human person, but also diminishes the truth and distorts the reality of these acts which are direct attacks against the fundamental right to life. 

Freedom of conscience is directly attacked with explicit language under three sections of this draft policy: Moral and Religious Beliefs (lines 112-136), Respecting Patient Dignity (lines 137-149) and Ensuring Access To Care (lines 150-165). Under the Moral and Religious Beliefs one gets the impression that for doctors to have recourse to moral and religious beliefs is not a certainty with which they can escape from any negative ramifications. 

The Respecting Patient Dignity section is somewhat contradictory. It states at lines 138-141 that where physicians are unwilling to provide certain "elements of care" due to their moral or religious beliefs, that such objections must be communicated to patients. Then at lines 145-148 it states that physicians must not try to convert patients or promote their own religious beliefs. Any explanation by a doctor regarding his or her objections to any "elements of care," based on moral or religious beliefs, would not only have to take into consideration communicating such objections in a sensitive manner, but also in a clear and complete manner. By doing so, according to the ambiguity of this section, such an explanation may be misconstrued as engaging in an attempt to convert patients.

What is more obvious of an attack on the freedom of conscience is at the third section, Ensuring Access To CareThe college expects doctors to "ensure access to care," in two main ways: informational and referral. The college requires doctors to provide information about all "clinical" options that are "available or appropriate to meet patients' clinical needs or concerns." Physicians are forbidden to withhold information pertaining to this when it conflicts with their moral or religious beliefs. In the case when physicians are unwilling to provide certain "elements of care," based on their moral and religious beliefs, they must refer patients to another "health care provider." For Catholic doctors to comply with such expectations is to become an accessory to a patient's sin when such "clinical needs or concerns" constitute anti-life acts or practices, such as abortion, euthanasia and contraception.

The root problem with the policy development at the CPSO is that it reflects an anti-life approach. What this draft policy specifically illustrates is the college's failure to explicitly state that no physician or surgeon should consider abortion, euthanasia, contraception and any other threat to the value and inviolability of human life, acceptable and apart of any definition of, reference to or inclusion in "elements of care" or "health care services." Such is a necessary and clear statement in the draft policy that not only recognizes the sacredness of human life, but also identifies and denounces all anti-life acts and practices. At the same time the draft policy should reinforce to the college's members that their education, training and experience should be placed at the service of life. What this translates into is the moral obligation of physicians and surgeons to respect and protect life from the moment of conception to natural death. (Catechism of The Catholic Church, 2261, 2270, 2271) Sadly the policy development at the college fails to seek, recognize and respect the truth about human life and the dignity of persons, first and foremost by failing to acknowledge the sacredness of human life. In the Catechism of The Catholic Church, under the 5th Commandment "Thou Shall Not Kill," it clearly states why life is sacred: 
Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being. (2258)
The sacredness of human life is also something that Saint Pope John Paul II wrote about in his pro-life document, the encyclical Evangelium Vitae (Gospel of Life). In reference to biblical story of Cain's killing of Abel he states: 
The sacredness of life gives rise to its inviolability, written from the beginning in man's heart, in his conscience. The question: "What have you done?" (Gen 4:10), which God addresses to Cain after he has killed his brother Abel, interprets the experience of every person: in the depths of his conscience, man is always reminded of the inviolability of life-his own life and that of others-as something which does not belong to him, because it is the property and gift of God the Creator and Father. (40)
It is rather paradoxical that the title given to this draft policy includes "Human Rights" when the policy itself does not defend the most fundamental aspect of human rights, the right to life. In addition this policy also fails to recognize another basic human right, the right of an individual to refuse to take part in an injustice. For Catholics this is a moral duty, which Saint Pope John Paul II noted in the aforementioned encyclical. (74)

Saint Pope John Paul II also made it clear that physicians, health care personnel and directors of hospitals, clinics and convalescent facilities be afforded the opportunity to refuse to take part in any aspect of anti-life acts be it consultation, preparation and execution of these acts. In support of freedom on conscience, he states that, "Those who have recourse to conscientious objection must be protected not only from legal penalties but also from any negative effects on the legal, disciplinary, financial and professional plane." (74)

One of the most important things to remember in the fight to restore Canada to a "culture of life" is the fact that the battle is primarily a spiritual one, and must be fought with effective spiritual weapons. IEvangelium Vitae, Saint Pope John Paul II included this important aspect of the battle by pointing out that no matter how well organized and funded the forces promoting the "culture of death" are, we can always rely on God's help, for nothing is impossible for God. He specifically mentioned the spiritual weapons of fasting and prayer as the most effective weapons against the forces of evil and made reference to Jesus addressing his apostles on the necessity of fasting that, "...[S]ome demons cannot be driven out except in this way." (100) 

The best way to fast is on bread and water. It does not matter how much bread one eats or how much water one drinks, so long as it strictly remains only bread and water, for the entire day, 24 hours. This has been the recommendation of Our Lady in Medjugorje. For those new to fasting, I would like to share with you my post on fasting, Our Lady's Little Stone - Fasting on Bread and Water

As for prayer, the two most powerful prayers are the Holy Mass and the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary respectively. Going to Mass often, daily if possible, coupled with a daily recitation of the the entire Rosary, that is, all four sets of mysteries, together with fasting, forms the foundation upon which each individual can take up the fight against the "culture of death" and help restore Ontario and Canada, to a "culture of life." Our Lady in Medjugorje has also recommend both prayers, which you can read about from two of my other posts: Our Lady's Little Stone - Eucharist and Our Lady's Little Stone - Pray With The Heart, The Rosary Everyday. I would like to encourage all who are willing to fight the good fight to take to heart the following plea Saint Pope John Paul II included in Evangelium Vitae:
Let us therefore discover anew the humility and the courage to pray and fast so that power from on high will break down the walls of lies and deceit: the walls which conceal from the sight of so many of our brothers and sisters the evil of practices and laws which are hostile to life. May this same power turn their hearts to resolutions and goals inspired by the civilization of life and love. (100)
Given the opportunity granted by the CPSO's current external consultation, it is up to all conscientious Catholics and all people of good will to respond courageously in the face of this increasing moral disorder and help restore Ontario and Canada to a "culture of life." 

May God guide your response.

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