Why this London doctor doesn't agree with referring patients for medically assisted death

'We need to find a system that works for everybody': doctor

Read this story on CBC (Link to audio of interview on CBC website)

One year after medically assisted death was made law in Canada, a London physician is adamant the rules are putting undue pressure of physicians who don't want to refer patients for the procedure.  

Dr. Ramona Coelho, a family doctor in London, said she understands Canadian law allows people to choose medically assisted death but she opposes a requirement that doctors have a duty to refer patients to another physicians who is willing to do it.

"We are a pluralistic society. We try to coexist, and we need to find a system that works for everybody," she told CBC's London Morning.

"I am willing to tell people that they have the legal option to do so, but the participation (by referral) is where I draw the line." 

Coelho was responding to a series of stories and interviews CBC London has presented about medically assisted dying, and the lack of access in this region.

Terminally ill patients often have a number of care professionals that can refer to another physician, Coelho said. 

"In a hospital setting, it's much more seamless than people are making it out to be. A doctor could notify someone to make the referral or transfer the care," she said. 

"In an outpatient setting, people have social workers, psychiatrists, a full care team, often six or seven people, and it shouldn't have to fall on the person who conscientiously objects to refer them. It could be a nurse, for example.