EDMONTON — A bill that many worry will restrict Albertans’ access to abortion, LGBTQ healthcare and contraception passed the first reading in the province’s legislature Thursday.
United Conservative MLA Dan Williams, who represents Peace River, introduced the Conscious Rights (Health Care Providers) Protection Act, which aims to assert freedom of conscience and religion for health providers.
“Health care providers should never have to choose between their most deeply held beliefs and their job,” said Williams in a written statement released after the vote.
The private member’s bill would amend the Alberta Human Rights Act to include “conscientious beliefs” as a basis for protection from discrimination, or refusal of employment. Basically, doctors would be able to refuse treatments or referring patients for treatments they are “morally” opposed to. These could include things like abortions, gender-affirming surgery or even contraception.
WATCH: Canadians react to strict U.S. abortion laws. Story continues below.
It passed first reading with support along party lines, with 36 UCP MLAs in attendance in favour and all 15 NDP MLAs opposed. Now it will move to a standing committee.
Critics of the bill, including the opposition NDP, worry it’s a roundabout way of reopening the abortion debate, something UCP premier Jason Kenney said he wouldn’t do.
“I can’t see this being anything other than another backdoor attempt to bring forward legislation specifically looking at abortion, reproductive services, perhaps questions around gender and diverse communities that are seeking treatment from medical doctors,” said NDP health critic David Shepherd Wednesday.
The job of a health care provider is to provide health care. Abortions and contraceptives are health care. #ableg
— Nicole Ellement (@nicoleellement) November 7, 2019
Doctors and nurses from across the province have also taken to social media to speak out against the bill.
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Source:: The Huffington Post – Canada Music