London-area MPP’s private member’s bill aims to let doctors opt out of medically assisted death

The issue of medical assistance in dying will be back at Queen’s Park on Thursday as a local MPP’s private member’s bill is up for debate.

Jeff Yurek, the PC health critic and MPP for Elgin Middlesex London, put forward a bill to allow health care professionals to refuse to directly or indirectly participate in medical assistance in dying if it violates their conscience or religious beliefs.

Yurek’s bill, An Act to amend the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 with respect to medical assistance in dying (MAID), will make participation in MAID voluntary.

The bill would not force medical professionals to refer patients for MAID, since referral is considered participation.

Yurek tells AM980 he’s heard from many health professionals who want their conscience rights to be upheld.

“There’s great fear that if this bill doesn’t pass, that would be introduction to Bill 84, that many doctors, family physicians, palliative care doctors will not be practicing in that field of medicine any longer because they will be disciplined by their college of physicians and surgeons if they refuse to participate directly or indirectly in medical assistance in dying,” he said.

Yurek hopes MPPs will be allowed to have a free vote on the bill and won’t be forced to toe party lines.

“I do believe the will of the majority of MPPs here is to support conscience rights, however, I think the leaders of the Liberals and NDP might squash the support of this bill.”

If the bill passes on Thursday, it will go on to the committee level for further study.