Bill reopens debate on physicians’ conscience rights
Advocates say a bill before the Alberta legislature, purported to defend the conscience rights of health-care professionals, could effectively legalize discrimination against transgender people.
Critics say the bill strips the requirement for health-care professionals to refer a patient to another physician if the patient’s needs conflict with their personal or religious beliefs.
The private member’s bill was tabled by United Conservative Party backbencher Dan Williams on Thursday. Williams told the legislature that Bill 207 is meant to ensure health-care professionals don’t have to choose between their convictions and their jobs.
To qualify for gender affirming surgery in Alberta, a trans person must get a diagnosis of gender dysphoria from one of five psychiatrists in the province with a specialization in transgender psychiatry. Gender dysphoria is when a person’s gender doesn’t align with the sex they were assigned at birth.
Tomm is concerned the bill would make it legal for a physician to refuse referring a patient to those psychiatrists, or even directing the patient to another doctor who is willing to give the referral.
She said it could have implications around access to hormone therapy.
Even in cases where a patient’s needs are not trans-specific, Tomm said she fears a physician could deny general care.