Open Letter To: All Members of the Ontario Legislative Assembly

May 15, 2017
We urge you to immediately introduce an amendment to recently enacted Bill 84 (Medical Assistance in Dying Statute Law Amendment Act, 2017) to include a provision for the freedom of conscience guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states in Article 18 Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion…  These were not just empty words but a sturdy foundation for civilized democracy, purchased with blood. It is outrageous to now cast the aside these ideals!

It is not illegal for any citizen to refuse to materially cooperate in procedures to end the life of any human being. It is a violation of citizens’ basic freedoms for any governing authority to punish honourable men and women for following their conscience by limiting them or excluding them from full participation in our public medical system, as the College of Physicians and Surgeons proposes to do.

Even during wartime, a time of national crisis when Canada’s existence as a nation was threatened and citizens were conscripted into the armed forces, Canadians have been free to claim non-lethal service with conscientious objector status. The freedom to adopt standards of conscience at odds with those of governing authorities is an important component of the freedoms enjoyed in Canada.  We are dismayed to find any Canadian citizen being punished by a college of physicians and surgeons for peaceful conscientious objection simply because that conscientious objection dissents from the views of another social group.

True secular equality demands that no social group may impose its standards of conscience upon another or suppress the free conscientious objections of those whose views differ from their own. The honourable men and women who serve us in the medical profession should be free to conclude that materially cooperating in taking the life of any human being violates their conscience and free to conscientiously object to such cooperation.

You need not agree with any specific view about assisted suicide to champion the freedom of conscience for which our forebears sacrificed and fought. That freedom is an important bulwark of democracy because individual conscience permits a focus of loyalty capable of challenging the otherwise supreme power of civil authorities.

Imposing barriers to the practice of their livelihood against honourable men and women simply because their beliefs don’t meet with the approval of some other social group contradicts Canadians’ hard-won freedom of conscience. Please champion freedom by moving that Bill 84 be amended to guarantee the  freedom of medical professionals to conscientiously object to materially cooperating  in procedures to end the life of any human being.

The Democracy Defence Initiative,

Per: Stephen C. Woodworth   (519) 404-4062