A three-judge panel of the Ontario Superior Court is now weighing the evidence and legal arguments on whether doctors in that province are entitled to conscience protection when it comes to issues such as euthanasia. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario adopted a policy last year requiring all doctors to, at very least, make a so-called “effective referral” for patients who express a desire for doctor-assisted suicide. Lawyer Albertos Polizogopoulos represented 5 doctors and several doctors’ groups that are trying to have that policy overturned. He says his entire case basically turned on two arguments: whether it was necessary to require a referral, and whether there might be a better way to handle the issue. “That was the whole case,” Polizogopoulos says. “Is it necessary, (and) if so, is there a better way to achieve the goal of ensuring access?”
Polizogopoulos says while it’s always tough to predict how the judges will rule, they certainly seemed to understand the arguments he was putting forward. “The judges were engaged; they seemed to understand and appreciate the arguments being made and the positions being advanced.” He says whether those judges were convinced “is yet to be seen, but I think we got a good hearing.”
There’s no word on when a ruling will come down in the case.