On Tuesday, November 13, 2018, the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) filed its factum with the Ontario Court of Appeal in Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada et al. v. College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO).

The Society has challenged the College’s Human Rights Policy and Medical Assistance in Dying Policy, both of which require doctors who are not willing to provide certain kinds of care—including contraception and abortion services—on religious grounds to provide patients with an “effective referral” to another physician. The policies also require doctors to provide emergency services, for example emergency abortions for women experiencing life-threatening pregnancies.

LEAF will argue that the policies advance women’s Charter rights by affirming their autonomy and ability to make personal decisions that affect their physical and psychological health and well-being. They will also argue that the ability to control and make choices about their reproductive health is central to women’s equality. An effective referral is the only realistic option for women to receive equitable access to care and exercise their reproductive rights.

“Many women already face systemic barriers to accessing reproductive health services,” says LEAF Executive Director & General Counsel Shaun O’Brien, “such as financial cost, lack of access to sexual health education and information, lack of access to abortion facilities, and the stigma associated with this care. We believe the CPSO policies advance women’s equality, and this vastly outweighs the impact on physicians being required to provide a referral.”

The Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) works to advance the substantive equality rights of women and girls through litigation, law reform, and public education. Since 1985, we have intervened in landmark cases that have advanced equality in Canada—helping to prevent violence, eliminate discrimination in the workplace, provide better maternity benefits, ensure a right to pay equity, and allow access to reproductive freedoms. For more information, please visit www.leaf.ca.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Shaun O’Brien, Executive Director & General Counsel
Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund
416.595.7170 x225
[email protected]

Karen Segal, Staff Lawyer
Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund
416.595.7170 x223
[email protected]