October 30th, 2020

Doctors’ rights shouldn’t trump patients’ rights

By Letter to the Editor on November 16, 2019.

The Conscience Rights (Health Care Providers) Protection Act, Bill 207, has been introduced into the Alberta Legislature that, if passed into law, would make it radically more difficult for every Albertan to access medical aid in dying (MAID).

It would allow doctors who hold personal views that oppose MAID to refuse referring patients who want information or help in applying for it. It means that doctors’ personal views would be more important than the help needed by dying patients. Or any other patient.

The bill also provides unwarranted protection to institutions, such as Covenant Health (St. Mike’s), that refuse to allow assisted dying on their premises. Since 2016, more than 100 people in Alberta, including a good friend of mine, have had to transfer out of these facilities on the very day that they arranged to die. Now that’s barbaric!

If dying is not yet a concern, perhaps you are concerned about the rights of people who want access to abortion, vasectomies, gender reassignment surgery, hysterectomies. Under Bill 207 the health-care provider can simply refuse to provide the service if it’s against their conscience.

Section 3 of the bill states, “If a health-care provider or religious health-care organization determines that their conscientious beliefs would be infringed by providing a specific health-care service to an individual, the health-care provider or religious health-care organization is not required to provide that health-care service to the individual.”

It brings religion into health care. It is outrageous. Doctors’ rights must not trump patients’ rights.

I urge every potential and present patient in Alberta to raise their voices and demand that this bill be withdrawn by the UCP government.

John Warren


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Of course doctors should not be forced to act against their religion when treating patients. If your doctor won’t give you the treatment you want do to another.

I am not religious myself but there is zero reason to force doctors to go against their religious beliefs.

I will make sure to commend the UCP for their smart decision to put this bill forward and remind that it is not only religious Albertans that support this but intelligent,rational atheists as well.


I’m not against doctor’s not treating patients with procedures that go against their conscience, but they have an obligation to refer them to one that will.

diplomacy works

It’s not so easy to just “go to another” doctor.

First because we don’t have an oversupply of doctors.

Secondly, what if you are in a rural area and really are short of doctors.

Thirdly – suppose time is of the essence – can you receive timely care for whatever ails you?

Alberta does not force doctors to go against their conscious in treating patients – say for assistance with abortion. But we do declare that they must refer the patient to a doctor who will offer assistance in dying or abortion or whatever the patient needs.

That seems little enough to require from physicians trained in taxpayer funded universities and working in taxpayer funded hospitals.

But I suppose all the religious supporters of UCP and Kenney will be very happy should a Muslim doctor refuse to treat a Jewish patient, because it’s against their conscious rights.
Or an Evangelical Christian doctor refuses to treat anyone who works in an environmental field.

Bill is not needed, Kenney said he wouldn’t open this can of worms and it needs to go away.

UCP was elected on the promise of jobs and pipelines – they are getting neither done.

John P Nightingale

The fact is that Bill 207 would severely restrict either access to, or, more importantly, information being provided to would be recipients of either abortion or MAID. That our premier has stated publicly that he would not introduce abortion legislation, is to me a contradiction of that promise if it indeed receives royal ascent.
When the College of Physicians and Surgeons (Alberta) and the Alberta Medical Association suggest this is a retrograde bill, I tend to take to note.
People living in rural Alberta especially, will be impacted. It is indeed the “thin edge of the wedge”.
Denying someone, be it at the beginning or the end of life , reasonable options is unacceptable. Denying those people reasonable access through referrals should be a fundamental right.


As a private member’s bill, it does not come from the UCP government. Consequently, Premier Kenney can legitimately say he has not introduced it. You obviously disagree with the proposed legislation, but you cannot say that Premier Kenney introduced it.

diplomacy works

JonathanVS apparently you and Kenney need a remedial lesson in democracy.

Anyone voted into the Legislature is part of our government.

Then there is the governing party, the UCP.
Whether cabinet or not – all the UCP MLAs are part of Kenney’s government.

And if you think Kenney hasn’t read this bill and that Peace River UCP MLA Dan Williams didn’t get help from the party to craft this bill —- you must also believe snakes don’t slither.

BTW – Williams worked as a political staffer for Kenney in Ottawa.
This Bill is what’s known as red meat for the religious base.



“The premier and ministers form the government.” Backbench MLAs are part of the governing party but they are not part of the government (that distinction belongs to the premier and his/her cabinet).

John P Nightingale

Fair observation. That being said , as premier, he represents the government. If the bill stalls during debate, then fair enough but if it becomes law, then Kenney must be answerable.