As of today, all Ontario doctors are now required to give referrals for abortions and other services that they personally oppose. Patients who are seeking assistance for health-related issues that go against a doctor's personal or religious beliefs are now no longer allowed to be turned away without referral to another doctor who is able to help them with their medical issue. Two of the main medical services that many patients throughout Ontario often have issue seeking are abortions and assisted dying.
According to CBC, this decision was unanimously ruled on today at around 10:30 AM ET, at the Superior Court of Ontario, as part of a challenge to a policy issued by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario two years ago.
Now that this ruling has been handed down, this referral requirement will allow all Ontarians to have access to the health care they are looking for, despite the belief of their doctors. Patients who are seeking to get an abortion or any other medical procedure that the doctor does not agree with can no longer be turned away.
While the decision was unanimous, during this challenge, multiple doctors and professional organizations argued against this referral requirement, stating that it goes against doctor's rights. They stated that patients could just go find another doctor themselves.
However, the court found that even though this new policy can be seen as an infringement on the doctor's religious freedom and rights, the benefits of medical assistance to the public is more important.
Patients who are turned away by a doctor with no referrals often face barriers, especially if they are living in remote areas or are vulnerable to their situation.
These referrals still allow doctors to practice their religious freedom, by not providing the service themselves, while still ensuring that the patient has access to the proper healthcare that they need.
This vote comes days after Conservative MPPs pledged to put a stop to abortions throughout Ontario. Narcity reported recently that Niagra West MPP Sam Oosterhoff joined an anti-abortion protest at Queen's Park. He discussed how abortions should be made 'unthinkable in our lifetime' and that children, no matter how small, need to be respected.
However, Oosterhoff's speech caused a lot of uproar throughout Ontario as Ontarians disagreed with his statements. Many stated that the rights that a woman has over her body should never be taken away by the government or their healthcare provider.
Through this new vote though, it has become clear that the Ontario healthcare system is protecting Ontarians' right to have access to abortions and other medical services.