June 27, 2014 6:12 pm

Debate sparked after Calgary doctor refuses to prescribe birth control

CALGARY- A Calgary doctor’s controversial decision to not prescribe birth control due to her beliefs has sparked a lively debate.

Joan Chand’oiseau says she went to the Westglen Medical Clinic in northwest Calgary on Tuesday morning, where a sign at the front desk said ‘Please be informed that the physician on duty today will not prescribe the birth control pill.’

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“I asked the receptionist about it immediately, and asked specifically if it was due to the doctor’s beliefs, and she confirmed it was,” Chand’oiseau says. “There is an overt judgment in that sign, and it is saying that someone thinks it’s not OK, that birth control is not OK or contraception is not OK.”

She adds that the sign may make patients reluctant to seek help.

“The medi clinic is in very close proximity to two high schools and one university, and those women—any women—may not feel as confident standing in that judgment.”

The physician on duty that day was Dr. Chantal Barry, who declined Global News’ requests for comment, as did others affiliated with Westglen Medical Clinic.

The CEO of the Calgary Sexual Health Centre says she’s also concerned by the situation.

“It’s really important that it’s very clear if you have personal values and you can’t support a person in something, that you have a mechanism that that person can get seamless service,” says Pam Krause. “So in other words, in this case another doctor in that clinic who is able to prescribe birth control.”

She adds it could put patients at risk.

“We have no idea when a woman shows up to get birth control. It could be the only time that week she has off, she might not be able to get to another clinic.

“When people show up to get medical service, they don’t expect that they’re not going to be able to receive it.”

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta states on its website:

“When moral or religious beliefs prevent a physician from providing or offering access to information about a legally available medical or surgical treatment or service, that physician must ensure that the patient who seeks such advice or medical care is offered timely access to another physician or resource that will provide accurate information about all available medical options.”

 

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