This article considers the debate about whether doctors should be allowed to refuse requested services to their patients because of their religious beliefs. The author discusses the various complications associated with this debate, such as whether this would extend to other professions as well or not. This article discusses the need for there to be a balance found between religious freedom and how it can be applied. The author states, “The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms grants every Canadian the right to entertain such religious beliefs as they choose. It does not, however, grant the right to impose those beliefs on others”. The debate was re-sparked by an incident in Ontario where a 25 year old woman was refused birth control in a walk in clinic by the on duty doctor because he only believed in one type of birth control “natural planning “, he stated this was due to “medical judgment as well as professional ethical concerns and religious values. The article brought up an interesting discussion on religious freedom and rights in Canada, and that while the charter of rights grants us right to religious freedom and expression how far should that extend. The other question it brings up is do people employed in professions that include public service or helping people, such as doctors, teachers, lawyers, or police officers even have special right to ignore or discard their responsibilities because of their religious beliefs.
I think that this topic brings up issues of religious freedom in a country where people have the right to express and practice their religion, as they want to. Though religious freedom does not trump other laws, police officers cannot ignore crimes or allow them to be committed because of their religious views, nor can they impose their religious laws on others based on how they feel. This may seem extreme but this is a valid discussion if doctors feel they have the right to refuse contraception or treatment to somebody because of their religious values, and then other professions might demand the same right. The charter of rights and freedoms does not grant any person the right to impose their beliefs on another person, or act in a manner that it affects another person. A police officer may choose not to work on Sunday because he is Mormon but he has not right to force other people to stay at home or impose fines in order to make them observe the Sabbath day. This goes for teachers as well, a science teacher may be religious but cannot refuse to teach the students about evolution or geology because it goes against his beliefs. Where does it stop? People have the right to practice their religion but it should not affect another person or their lives in any manner. Allowing doctors to refuse treatment or prescribe birth control to anyone can be akin to opening Pandora’s box, in that it can have ramifications for professions across Canada, with many people claiming certain aspects of their professional responsibilities conflict with their religion.