Let Thy Conscience Be Thy Guide (but not My Guide): Physicians and the Duty to Refer

Daphne Gilbert

(2017) 10:2 McGill Journal of Law & Health 47.

Abstract:

This article analyses a court challenge brought by a group of physicians and advocacy groups to practice guidelines promulgated by their regulatory body. The guidelines require physicians with conscience or religious objections to providing certain kinds of care to effectively refer patients to a non-objecting physician. The author considers the specific context of abortion and contraception as the location of conscience objections. The author concludes that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies to physicians and requires them to abide by the regulatory guidelines.

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About the Author:

Daphne Gilbert specializes in teaching criminal and constitutional law, including courses in Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, American Constitutional Law, and Advanced Sexual Assault law. Her research interests lie primarily in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, with a particular emphasis on equality rights, reproductive rights and sexual violence. Her most recent work considers the impact of physician conscience protections on access to contraception and abortion in Canada.  She is President of the Board of “Women Help Women”, an international abortion service provider.  She sits on the Action Team on Sexual Violence for the University of Ottawa, and Chairs the Sub-Committee drafting a new Sexual Violence policy.  She appeared as co-counsel for LEAF at the Supreme Court hearing in Withler v Canada, and she continues to focus on equality issues in her scholarship and teaching.

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