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Old 02-22-2002, 09:57 AM   #1
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BC doctor refuses to prescribe birth control

this from the national post this morning,
Quote:

MD under fire for denying birth control
Barrie doctor refuses to prescribe contraceptive pills to single women

Mary Vallis, with files from Robert Benzie
National Post

An Ontario doctor may lose his medical licence for refusing to prescribe birth control pills to single women.

Dr. Stephen Dawson, a family physician at a walk-in medical clinic in Barrie, is facing a professional misconduct charge because four female patients lodged formal complaints with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario last summer.

"When a physician prescribes the birth control pill to an unmarried woman, what he unwittingly does is promote premarital sex," Dr. Dawson said in an interview.

"My Christian beliefs and convictions are very strong. I can't sell out to maintain my licence."

The College's disciplinary committee alleges Dr. Dawson compromised his patients' mental, moral and physical health by failing to ensure their needs were met after refusing their requests for contraception.

Dr. Dawson says he was advised to refer the patients to another physician who would write the prescriptions, but says doing that would have been hypocritical. The patients were free to use condoms or find other doctors independently, he added.

He also refuses to provide single men with Viagra prescriptions, offer unmarried women the morning-after pill or arrange abortions.

"He's entitled to his beliefs and he is certainly entitled to express his beliefs," said Laura Shanner, who researches reproductive ethics at the University of Alberta's John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre.

"What he is not entitled to do is to deny the standard of care to his patients. He absolutely must refer patients to a practitioner who is able to deal with sexuality and reproductive issues in a non-judgmental and helpful way.

"This individual has a responsibility to get out of the business where he's put in the position to have to make those choices. He is not able to deal with a very common question that faces family practitioners. Maybe he should become a pathologist and work with tissue samples and not have to get involved in people's sex lives."

Louise Hanvey, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada, said patients already face too many obstacles to obtaining contraception in Canada.

"We see this as a human rights issue," she said. "Women and men are entitled to their reproductive rights."

Dr. Dawson's supporters, on the other hand, say all physicians should aspire to his example.

"He's actually being a good physician by taking care of both the spiritual as well as the medical and physical needs of his patients," said John Hof, president of the B.C. branch of Campaign Life Coalition. "If he can't put his opinion into it, then it takes away the motive for helping people."

Dr. Dawson instigated his policy on Feb. 8, 2000, after reading a Bible verse that convinced him providing birth control prescriptions was immoral. He informed his patients of his decision during their subsequent visits and distributed a letter outlining his position.

In it, he quotes Ezekiel 3:18-21: "When you do not warn or dissuade an unrighteous man from his evil ways, he will lose his soul for his iniquity, and his blood will be on your hands. Yet if you do warn him and he does not change from his evil ways, he will lose his soul, but you will at least save your own soul."

He said the college's allegations amount to religious persecution.

"We live, supposedly, in a free country," he said. "In this country, we are allowed to have fundamental freedoms of conscience, religion and expression of our views."

His is the only medical clinic in Barrie and the surrounding area that is accepting new patients. Dr. Dawson also sees patients in Toronto on weekends and owns clinics in nearby Orillia and Marmora, Ont. He graduated from the University of Toronto's medical school in 1982.

Officials at the Ontario Ministry of Health declined to comment on Dr. Dawson's case because it is before the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

The College may not have a strong case against Dr. Dawson because in other instances in the province, it has been left to the individual discretion of physicians as to whether they perform abortions or other procedures that may be against their religious beliefs.

Kathryn Clarke, a spokeswoman for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, reviewed its discipline reports for the past decade and could not find any comparable allegations.

Three doctors and two members of the public sit on the discipline committee. In professional misconduct cases, they can reprimand the doctor, suspend his licence or revoke it altogether. The hearing is scheduled for April.
comments?
i am going to have to side with the state and say that though his religous convictions may have prevented him from prescribing the neccessary precautions, his professional convictions required him to send his patients to another doctor, considering that our nation is recognizing the right to sex as a human right.

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Old 02-22-2002, 10:14 AM   #2
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True, he could find another job in the medical field, but people can also find new doctors on their own. It's not like a specialist, where you have to have a referral from another doctor in order for insurance to pay. People can just look through their network provider directory and pick another doctor. It's as simple as that.
I'm not so sure I would want the government sticking their nose in my business over such an issue.
Also, kobayashi, does Canada really guarantee sex as a human right? That's odd.
I could definitely win a human rights violation case up there.
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Old 02-22-2002, 10:20 AM   #3
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Originally posted by 80sU2isBest:
Also, kobayashi, does Canada really guarantee sex as a human right? That's odd.
I could definitely win a human rights violation case up there.
yes, that is obviously the easiest solution and i'm sure that's what these girls have done. that is simply common sense.

but i do not believe the government will allow a doctor in the system to continue on in this fashion knowingly.

i'm 99% certain it is not guaranteed in our charter of rights, but that was drafted in '81 i believe(that is probably wrong as i am not big on history), but it is definetely a progressive goal that they are driving towards for the future, imo.
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Old 02-22-2002, 01:36 PM   #4
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Regardless of whether you agree with this man's ideas about premarital sex, I think you have to acknowlege that as a doctor he has a responsibility to provide the best standard of care to his patients. If he has such a problem with prescribing birth control then maybe he ought to consider how well suited he is to provide medical care to women.

I find it especially worrying that he's the only physician accepting new patients in that area as this limits people's ability to choose another doctor if they are aware that he will refuse to treat them according to their needs.

At the very least, he has a responsibility to refer women who ask to be prescribed birth control to a doctor who will do so. He does not have the right to force his own subjective religious beliefs on others, especially when doing so can put their wellbeing at risk.
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Old 02-22-2002, 02:11 PM   #5
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well said, fizz.
doctors deal with physical health, not spiritual. if i wanted a christian sermon, i'll go to church. it's not up to one's doctor to decide whether or not their patients can have the medication or not because they don't believe in it.
anyway, if you read this bible verse that made him change his ways, it only mentions about warning people, not forcing beliefs. basically, if this passage means so much to him, he would be following it if he would say to a single woman "you know according to christian belief that premarital sex is wrong and i don't condone this sort of behaviour." or something of the like.

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Old 02-22-2002, 04:06 PM   #6
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So, a doctor should prescribe birth control even though he's against it. Does that also apply to abortions? Should a doctor give a woman an abortion if he himself believes it to be immoral?

(I'm not even taking into account the possibility that abortion is murder, which would make it a strict violation of the Hyppocratic Oath.)

Should a doctor be required - in ALL cases - to do things that his moral code forbids him to do?
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Old 02-22-2002, 04:22 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba:
Should a doctor be required - in ALL cases - to do things that his moral code forbids him to do?
He went through the schooling, and should be required to carry out what his position asks of him. The doctor knows what he's getting himself into when he receives that degree. True, abortion is troubling--and I sure do not like the thought of carrying out such a procedure--but as a doctor, you can specialize in different areas, so in that sense you have some control over the practice.

I just think that refusing to distribute birth control to these single women, and not referring them over to another doctor, is a dodgy way of "serving the public" with doctoring needs.

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Old 02-22-2002, 04:31 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Matthew_Page2000:
80's, what if the doctor in question was a Christian Scientist opposed to surgery instead of birth control? Or a Jehovah's Witness who refused to do blood transfusions? Or a Satan worshipping witch with her own ideas about what is "acceptable" treatment?
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I would find another doctor, simple as that. I wouldn't ask the government to come in and force anything on them.
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Old 02-22-2002, 04:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba:
So, a doctor should prescribe birth control even though he's against it. Does that also apply to abortions? Should a doctor give a woman an abortion if he himself believes it to be immoral?
At the least, the doctor should inform the woman that s/he is unwilling to prescribe birth control and offer a referal to a doctor who is willing to do so. To ask for birth control is not an unreasonable request, I appreciate that this individual doctor is opposed to it, but his patients may not share the same religious beliefs and so he has no right to deny them treatment on the basis of his beliefs. If he is unwilling to provide the treatment, the patient should be enabled to seek treatment elsewhere.
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Old 02-22-2002, 04:47 PM   #10
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Sorry, I meant to reply to the question about abortion in my last post.

It's interesting because here in the UK, a woman needs the consent of two doctors to have an abortion, but if she goes to see her GP (that's like a family doctor, I guess, I don't know if we use the same descriptions everywhere) and s/he is opposed to abortion, they are permitted simply to turn her away. They're not under any obligation to state that they personally have a moral objection to abortion, and refer the woman to a doctor who can help her, they can simply refuse her treatment. This of course means that women are either denied any access to abortion, or that they are forced to pay privately for their treatment - currently about 1/3 of people seeking abortion have to pay privately.

In my opinion, that is completely unacceptable. Whatever the doctor's opinions about abortion, it is legally permitted in this country and therefore women should not be denied access to it because of the subjective beliefs of their doctor. I'm absolutely not arguing that a doctor should be forced to carry out an abortion if this is against their beliefs, but they shouldn't have the right to prevent a woman from seeking treatment from a doctor who is willing to provide it.
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Old 02-22-2002, 08:22 PM   #11
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yeah, if a doctor thinks it's immoral, that's fine. no skin off my back. but the least they can do is say it up front, *and* refer them to someone else who will.
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Old 02-22-2002, 08:55 PM   #12
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Who does he think he is, Pat Robertson??
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Old 02-22-2002, 10:10 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by FizzingWhizzbees:
I appreciate that this individual doctor is opposed to it, but his patients may not share the same religious beliefs and so he has no right to deny them treatment on the basis of his beliefs. If he is unwilling to provide the treatment, the patient should be enabled to seek treatment elsewhere.
But it's not treatment. We're not talking about a medical treatment. If he was denying his patients medical treatment, that would be one thing. But we're talking about birth control here. It is NOT a medical necessity. It is quite possible to live without sex.

Put yourself in his shoes. Let's say you are a recovering alcoholic, and you own a restaraunt. You refuse to serve alcohol because you don't want it to do to others what it did you. Someone asks you to refer them to a restaraunt that does serve alcohol. Should the government be able to FORCE you to refer that person to another restaraunt?

Come on, people. Think about freedoms here. Would you want the government sticking its nose in your practice?

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Old 02-23-2002, 12:05 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by 80sU2isBest:

Come on, people. Think about freedoms here. Would you want the government sticking its nose in your practice?

I have always found it interesting how it is acceptable for religion to 'stick its nose' in anything and everything, but it's unacceptable for the government to do this, to restrict ones 'freedoms'
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Old 02-23-2002, 03:42 AM   #15
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80's, what if the doctor in question was a Christian Scientist opposed to surgery instead of birth control? Or a Jehovah's Witness who refused to do blood transfusions? Or a Satan worshipping witch with her own ideas about what is "acceptable" treatment?

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