I could ever only respect a doctor who practices medicine in a way that is in complete harmony with his conscience. This is crucially important and I would not want to see a doctor who did anything against what his conscience was saying to him.
Here is a real life example of conscience rights gone awry. When Justin Trudeau announced his can't-be-a-pro-life-candidate-for-the-Liberal-party policy, MP Lawrence MacAulay thought he would be permitted to vote with his own personal beliefs, which are anti-abortion:
"MacAuley, who has been an MP since 1988, said last week he expected to be permitted to vote on side with his own personal beliefs which are anti-abortion.
A spokesperson for the Liberal Party quickly contradicted this statement, stating any Liberal MP will be expected to vote in favour of abortion.
MacAulay later backtracked on Twitter, stating: “I accept and understand the party position regarding a woman’s right to choose. Despite my personal beliefs, I understand that I will have to vote the party position should this issue ever come up in the House of Commons.”"This is very troubling. MacAuley says he is pro-life. But then at a flick of a can't-be-a-pro-life-candidate-for-the-Liberal-party switch, MacAulay says he would now support the party position on abortion--against his own conscience.
And freedom of conscience is a right guaranteed by our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. And for very good reason. It is how we want all good people to respond to issues of ethics and morality. They pay attention to their conscience.
In purely practical terms, doing away with freedom of conscience rights for doctors will have the following negative outcome.
Good doctors, after years and years of training will leave the profession. This would be a lose-lose situation. The doctor and his family suffer from the loss of his/her livelihood. The public would suffer since we already have a doctor shortage, and this would only make it worse.
We do not want good doctors to leave the profession. For what? So that a woman can be guaranteed to be able to obtain the birth control pill or an abortion from every single doctor in the country, when there are already (some might say too many) doctors filling the need? Is this really what we want of our doctors? I hope not.
And make no mistake. The only reason the issue has come up at all, is because of contraception and abortion.
It will also mean we will now have institutionalized discrimination against pro-life doctors. Just like we have institutionalized discrimination against pro-life politicians in two of our three political parties in Canada. Let's not go there.