This one is C-537, "an Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of conscience rights in the health care profession)", brought by Maurice Vellacott, Member of Parliament for Sasaktoon-Wanuskewin. It's the third time this MP has introduced this same bill, which he frames as "freedom of choice for all health care workers". When Vellacott introduced the bill in Parliament, he said:
...the bill would prohibit coercion in medical procedures that offend a person's religion or belief that human life is inviolable. The bill seeks to ensure that health care providers will never be forced to participate against their will in procedures such as abortions or acts of euthanasia. ...
Canada has a long history of recognizing the rights of freedom of religion and of conscience in our country. Yet health care workers and those seeking to be educated for the health care system have often been denied those rights in medical facilities and educational institutions. Some have even been wrongfully dismissed.
This bill is anti-woman, anti-equality, anti-personal liberty, anti-choice and anti-common sense.
Health care providers cannot be allowed to pick and choose what legal procedures they want to perform or assist with. If a person cannot in good conscience have anything to do with abortion, or any other legal medical procedure, that person shouldn't be working in health care.
In the theocracy to the south, where models for all manner of anti-choice, anti-woman legislation can be found, reports of pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for contraception have been surfacing for many years. Some states have tried to pass laws upholding a pharmacist's right to do so, while other states have mandated that all licensed pharmacists must fill all legal prescriptions.
(I should note that I'm using pharmacists as an analogy, and not abortion providers, since as of 2000, 86% of US counties had no abortion provider. 97% of American women in non-metropolitan areas live in counties with no abortion provider. An opt-out law would hardly make a difference there.)
I blogged about the pharmacy issue a long time ago, and when I went back to look for the post, I saw this in comments:
When I first read about the move to allow pharmacists to not carry certain items according to their conscience, I thought, "Gee. That's a good idea. No one should be forced to do something they don't think is right."
But then I thought about it some more. Where does it end? Can an emergency room doc withhold treatment from a gang member because he disapproves of gang activity? Can he refuse to treat an injury caused by the patient's own stupidity? What if he wants to withhold surgery from someone because they are gay, or a different religion, or a different color? Just because they think it's wrong.
Back to the pharmacist. What if he wants to withhold AZT from someone with HIV because he assumes that AIDS is a gay disease and thinks it's wrong? What if he doesn't want to fill a prescription for pain killers because he would choose to tough it out and you should too?
Initially, I was even able to answer these questions with, "So what? You can always go to another pharmacist for your drugs." But if everyone in a conservative town is withholding the same prescriptions, it essentially becomes impossible to get.
I really appreciated this line from your post:
But if you can't do your job properly because your conscience is bothering you, you need to find another profession.
When you sign up to be a pharmacist, you know what you're getting into. It's not like you accidentally got the job; it takes a lot of time and effort. So to all the pharmacists out there, know what you're getting yourself into, then live up to your responsibility and quit complaining about it. Otherwise, find something else that's more compatible with your lifestyle.
That's it in a nutshell. (Thank you, former reader from Arkansas.) A health care provider's first responsibility is to the patient. Providers who cannot meet their obligations to their patients because of religious or conscience issues shouldn't be doing that job. Prospective employers must be free to screen for such potential issues and not hire people who might put a patient at risk because of a conflict of conscience.
For a more exhaustive list of what's wrong with C-537, and about the Conservatives' attacks on women in general, see this excellent post by The Regina Mom.