Personal convictions

Conscientious Objection

Under review

While physicians must honor their obligation to come to the rescue and assistance of all patients who consult them, they are nonetheless citizens themselves with rights, notably the right to their own beliefs. When their convictions could influence the nature or quality of care provided to a patient, physicians must make sure that they fulfill their ethical obligations. In this regard, section 24 of the Code of Ethics is clear:

“A physician must, where his personal convictions prevent him from prescribing or providing professional services that may be appropriate, acquaint his patient with such convictions;
he must also advise him of the possible consequences of not receiving such professional services.

The physician must then offer to help the patient find another physician.”

For example, a physician who is opposed to abortion or contraception is free to limit these interventions in a manner that takes into account his or her religious or moral convictions. However, the physician must inform patients of such when they consult for these kinds of professional services and assist them in finding the services requested.

  • Nancy B. vs. Hôtel-Dieu de Québec and Danielle Marceau, [1992], R.J.Q., 361 (SC). LAW REFORM COMMISSION OF CANADA, Euthanasia, aiding suicide and cessation of treatment, Ottawa, Law Reform Commission of Canada, 1982, series “Protection of Life”, Working Paper No. 28, p. 50. 
  • Guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and emergency cardiac care. Emergency Cardiac Care Committee and Subcommittees. American Heart Association, Part VIII.  
  • Ethical considerations in resuscitation” The Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 268, No. 16, October 28, 1992, p. 2282-2288.  
  • R.P. KOURI and S. PHILIPS-NOOTENS, L’intégrité de la personne et le consentement aux soins, 2nd edition, 2005, Cowansville, Éditions Yvon Blais, 738 p.  
  • Mallette v. Schulman, [1990], 72 O.R. (2d) 417; 67 D.L.R. (4th) 321 (Ont. C.A.).