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Liberals say O’Toole’s Tories would ‘let doctors deny abortion, contraceptives and medically assisted dying’

‘Erin O’Toole says he’s pro-choice and pretends to be a moderate. In reality, Erin O’Toole has teamed up with the extreme right to roll back abortion rights, and medically assisted dying’
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MP Carolyn Bennett. (James Hopkin/SooToday)

Erin O’Toole is quietly proposing to cut access to healthcare for women, LGBTQ2, and all Canadians – by allowing doctors to arbitrarily deny access and prevent referrals to abortion, contraceptives, and medically assisted dying.

Buried on page 147 of the Conservative platform, O’Toole promises to “protect the conscience rights of healthcare professionals.”  That’s code for limiting access to abortion, medically assisted dying, and healthcare for LGBTQ2 Canadians.

“Erin O’Toole says he’s pro-choice and pretends to be a moderate. In reality, Erin O’Toole has teamed up with the extreme right to roll back abortion rights, and medically assisted dying,” said Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett. “This is far outside the mainstream, only handful of southern U.S. states have passed this kind of discriminatory policies. The policy would even let doctors and pharmacists deny contraceptives.”

  • This year, the state of Arkansas enacted a conscience rights law which allows healthcare providers to opt out of procedures based on their religious or moral beliefs. The legislator championing this bill has said the two areas where the law would most be applied are abortion and gender transition procedures. (Arkansas Online, July 25, 2021)
  • In 2012, the state of Kansas enacted a conscience rights law which provides legal protection to health care providers who refuse to participate in abortions based on their conscience. The law allows pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for drugs they believe may induce abortions. (Reuters, May 15, 2012)
  • In 2019, the Alberta Conservative government rejected “The Conscience Rights Act for Healthcare Workers”, a proposed bill that would have limited access to services such as contraception, abortion, and medically assisted dying. (CBC, November 22, 2019)
  • In 2014, Campaign Life Coalition launched a campaign in Ontario to “uphold doctors’ conscience rights, to reduce access to abortion. The proposal was endorsed by Conservative leadership candidate Leslyn Lewis.

“This policy was too controversial for Alberta’s Conservatives, but Erin O’Toole has fully embraced it because he owes his leadership to people like Leslyn Lewis,” said Liberal candidate Melanie Joly. “This is the real Erin O’Toole – he says he’s pro-choice and moderate but he relies on hard-right conservatives like Leslyn Lewis and the Campaign Life Coalition for support.”

“O’Toole let the majority of his MPs vote to restrict abortion and vote against a ban on conversion therapy, and now he’ll let doctors deny women’s right to choose,” said Joly.

“In this important election, Canadians have a clear choice between Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives who will take us backward by rolling back abortion and LGBTQ2 rights, and Justin Trudeau’s plan to move forward with a real plan to protect the rights of women and LGBTQ2 Canadians,” said Bennett.