Author: Dov Kagan JD
Medical regulators across Canada have responded to the challenge of conscience-based objections to medical assistance in dying (MAID) with divergent approaches. In Ontario, the College of Physicians and Surgeons (CPSO) has decided that physicians with a conscience-based objection to MAID must provide an “effective referral” for any patient who requests one. In the recent case of CMDS v CPSO, the Christian Medical and Dental Society challenged this policy, arguing that it violates their members’ rights to freedom of religion and equality. The court dismissed the constitutional challenge, holding that although the policy did infringe freedom of religion, it was justified because of the need to ensure equitable access to healthcare. This paper will briefly outline the court’s reasons in the case and discuss some of the implications for affected physicians.
Keywords: medical assistance in dying, MAID, conscience-based objection, effective referral