Patient Rights!

Patient Rights!

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.



2 thoughts on “Patient Rights!

  1. The Right to Choice and Religion

    Original Article:

    Abortion is always a heated topic in the news and a recent study conducted by the Public Health Agency of Canada found that access to abortion clinics vary drastically throughout Canada. This study shows that not only is there few choices for women on where to get an abortion in Canada but there is also little choice in the method. In Canada there are 94 abortion facilities spread throughout the country with the 46 of these facilities in Quebec. As the article points out as of right now in Canada there is no law governing abortion. In 1988 the supreme court of Canada struck down the countries previous abortion law, much to the dismay of many religion groups.

    We can look at what various religious groups think about life to get their views on abortion. First we have the catholic church which views life as sacred and inviolable therefor for them abortion is a volition of the a person’s life. It also goes against one of the ten commandments which says “thou shall not kill”. Islamic teachings say that life beings at conception and this unborn child has rights to care, life and protection, which means for Islam abortion is a volition of the rights of the unborn child. Much like Islamic and Christian teaching Judaism forbids the taking of human life. They view humans as all being made in the image of God, making abortion viewed as a violation of their laws. A less extreme view from the above three religions is Buddhism which has no ethical central authority on the issue. Although the Dali Lama has said that abortion is acceptable in certain circumstances, but he says normally this is considered killing, however if the birth can cause serious/fatal problems to the parents it can be an expectation. This is in contrast to Christianity, Islam, and Judaism all view abortion as killing regardless of circumstances.

    Regardless of religious views, abortion is a constant topic of debate between politicians, pro-life activists and religious groups. This study does not however take a stand on what they think is the right position to take on abortion. It is simply showing the unequal access Canadians have to a service that is not illegal under the Canadian Constitution. This article focuses on how the right of women to choose is being constrained by the limited resources available should they chose to have an abortion.

    -DNS #200

  2. It is interesting to talk about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. On one side, the Charter provides us with the fundamental freedoms and rights that includes freedom of religion and freedom to practice that religion, but on the other hand, it also guarantees the Legal rights that includes the security of a person. Taking the example from the blog, if a woman is rejected birth control due to the doctor’s religious beliefs, I think that the doctor is intruding the security of that women, which according to me is wrong. One must have full liberty to practice his or her religion but should not impose the beliefs on other individuals. Young people are easily influenced by their teachers, doctors and mentors, so they should be very cautious of what they do or say as it may change the child’s point of view about his or her cultural and religious beliefs. Having said this, I absolutely am not against the freedom of religion. I think everyone’s religion must be respected and everyone must be allowed to practice their religion openly without any danger but at the same time we must not impose our beliefs on others or do anything that affects someone else.

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