November 7, 2019
Bill 207 is a political attack on Albertans' access to legal health care services
Peace River MLA Dan Williams' introduction of private member’s Bill 207: Conscience Rights (Health Care Providers) Protection Act, is a disingenuous political attack on access to legal health care services such as abortion and Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID). By using the narrative of ‘conscience rights’ the UCP government and MLA Williams do not mean the freedom of conscience afforded under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This narrative simply points directly to the right of a provider of public services to provide those services selectively.
Bill 207 is a political attack on reproductive rights that threatens women’s health, autonomy and rights, including the right to abortion, which has been a legal right in Canada since 1988. It is a political attack on Albertans accessing MAID, and a political attack on the LGBTQ2S+ community having timely access to health care.
“This government’s attempt at creating a new law that would allow doctors and nurses to refuse to take part in legal health care services on moral grounds is unconscionable. It will ultimately hinder Albertans' ability to access a safe and legal health service,” indicates Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare.
If passed, Bill 207 will create major delays and barriers to people accessing medically necessary services in a province where access is already very difficult. All people have the proactive right to equal access to abortion and other legal health care services. Any province that passes legislation such as Bill 207 would be in violation of the Canada Health Act, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and international human rights laws.
"We already have an extremely tolerant attitude towards those who do not wish to partake in providing certain aspects of healthcare by affording healthcare workers with personal protections while at the same time recognizing the rights of patients,” Azocar states.
Friends of Medicare is calling on the UCP government to recognize that they have a responsibility to uphold sexual and reproductive health and rights in Alberta, and that they have a legal responsibility to provide health services to all Albertans. Bill 207 signals that dogma and ideological positions are determining what health services Albertans can and cannot access. We need all MLAs to respect, uphold and protect Albertans' rights by voting down Bill 207.