Medicine and Health is one of three broad areas of education and activism that Centre for Inquiry Calgary focuses on. The issue regarding Dr. Chantal Barry of Westglen Medical Centre, and her refusal to prescribe contraceptives based on religious beliefs is of great concern to us and Calgarians. Public polls on this issue through the Calgary Herald, Global News Calgary, and CTV Calgary all show a resounding negative public reaction against this Doctor’s actions.
At Centre for Inquiry Calgary, we strongly disapprove when medical treatment is influenced by personal beliefs, whether they are cultural, religious, moral, bigoted, or racist. All Albertans have the right to receive equal and appropriate care from all Physicians. Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and freedoms, a person cannot be discriminated against based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.
A Physician who refuses medical treatment based on a personal or religious belief is using that as an excuse to force their beliefs onto others and to discriminate. Specifically, when a Physician refuses to prescribe contraceptives because of religious beliefs, they are discriminating against that person, because they have differing religious beliefs.
Under the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta’s policy on Moral or Religious Beliefs Affecting Medical Care, doctors can refuse to provide medical services, but must ensure the patient is offered timely access to those services from another practitioner. In the case of Dr. Chantal Barry of Westglen Medical Centre, timely access is not given. If a Physician refuses to give medical treatment to a patient, we feel that “timely access” should mean “seamless access”.
When Dr. Barry is working alone at the clinic, there is no seamless access for the patients that she has denied medical services to. At a minimum, Dr. Barry should not be permitted to be the sole Doctor on duty at a medical practice to ensure that patients can receive all the necessary medical care entitled to all Canadians.