Janis Irwin, the Alberta NDP’s critic for women and LGBTQ issues, speaks to reporters following the rejection of a private member’s bill that would have further protected health workers who invoked their conscience rights on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019. (Janis Irwin/Twitter)

Janis Irwin, the Alberta NDP’s critic for women and LGBTQ issues, speaks to reporters following the rejection of a private member’s bill that would have further protected health workers who invoked their conscience rights on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019. (Janis Irwin/Twitter)

Alberta MLAs reject bill for health workers who refuse service based on moral beliefs

Bill would have meant workers could not be sued for refusing to provide services like abortions

A private member’s bill that would have given further protection to Alberta health workers who invoked their conscience rights has been rejected at the committee level.

The standing committee on private members’ bills heard from four doctors, the Trans Equality Society of Alberta and Dying with Dignity Canada before voting against the proposal.

The bill was brought forward by United Conservative government backbencher Dan William.

It would have meant that health-care providers could not be sued or sanctioned for refusing to provide services — such as abortion, assisted dying or contraception — that went against their moral beliefs.

Currently, Alberta doctors who don’t want to perform those services must refer patients to someone who will.

Concerns had been raised by the Opposition NDP that the bill could have created a back-door way to restrict access to abortion and contraception, particularly in rural areas where access to physicians and services can be limited.

A doctor and a transgender rights advocate raised similar concerns before the committee Thursday.

“Conscience rights are used by anti-abortion groups, specifically and openly, as a way to reopen this debate,” said Dr. Jillian Ratti.

Holly Tomm, president of the Trans Equality Society of Alberta, added the bill would further decrease health-care access for members of the LGBTQ community.

“If we reach out to those agencies and we get a stone wall — no other referrals, no other information — we crawl back into our closets and we start harming ourselves,” said Tomm.

There was support for the bill.

Dr. Kiely Williams suggested rural physicians could leave or quit if their beliefs were not protected.

“If we don’t allow the freedoms for people to object, my point is that we will lose it for everyone,” she said.

Janis Irwin, the NDP’s critic for women and LGBTQ issues, called the 8-2 vote against the bill a victory.

The committee did vote unanimously to send another bill amending the law on organ and tissue donation to the assembly that would allow people’s organs to be automatically recovered unless they had opted out while still alive. (CTV Edmonton, The Canadian Press)

READ MORE: Indigenous, two-spirit couple from Alberta wins Amazing Race Canada

READ MORE: For trans people, gender-swap photo filters are no mere game

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

file photo
Leduc RCMP, Millet Fire Department and more on scene at serious multi-vehicle collision

Traffic is expected to be diverted for several hours and alternative travel routes are recommended.

File photo
Leduc RCMP request assistance to identify armed robbery suspect

Leduc RCMP are searching for suspect involved in an armed robbery at the Leduc Giant Tiger.

Alberta is now below 3,000 active cases of COVID-19, as the province reported 2,639 Wednesday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer below 100 active COVID-19 cases for first time since March

69.7 per cent of Albertans 12 and over have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

Premier Jason Kenney says the provincial government is doing everything it can to encourage Albertans to get vaccinated. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Travel prizes added to Alberta’s vaccine lottery

More than 40 travel rewards available for those who are fully vaccinated

(Advocate file photo)
Red Deer down to 102 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 332 cases with 26 in hospital and five in ICU

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., center left, reaches over to Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., joined by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., center, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus as they celebrate the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act that creates a new federal holiday to commemorate June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people after the Civil War, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 17, 2021. It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Biden to sign bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday

New American stat marks the nation’s end of slavery

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

Fallout has continued, with two of the federal council’s members resigning

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S President Joe Biden shake hands during their meeting at the ‘Villa la Grange’ in Geneva, Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
Biden says meeting with Putin not a ‘kumbaya moment’

But U.S. president asserted Russian leader is interested in improved relations, averting a Cold War

A nurse prepares a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Yukon Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Thomas
Vancouver couple pleads guilty to breaking Yukon COVID rules, travelling for vaccine

Chief Judge Michael Cozens agreed with a joint sentencing submission,

COVID-related trash is washing up on shorelines across the world, including Coldstream’s Kal Beach, as pictured in this May 2021 photograph. (Jennifer Smith - Black Press)
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Most Read