FEBRUARY 2008
VOLUME 5 NO. 2
EDITORIAL

LETTERS

DEBATING MORGENTALER
The interview with Dr Morgantaler in your January 15 issue (Vol 5, No 1) revealed quite clearly his belief that abortion has resulted in a drop in crime. Firstly, this is dubious and more importantly how can we condone the extermination of innumerable fetuses on the presumption that if their parenting is imperfect the child is destined for a life of crime? A eugenic concept, no doubt grist for the mill of the Nazi machine which Morgantaler thankfully survived. Ironic indeed. I now challenge you to interview an anti-abortion proponent — say, Will Johnston of Canadian Physicians for Life — to at least give a balanced view on this matter.

Dr Richard Poole, Hudson, QC

As a family physician practicing obstetrics, I am writing to express my appreciation of your fair and balanced coverage of the Morgentaler decision. It's interesting — though not surprising — that men wrote four of the five anti-choice opinions solicited in "Remembering the Morgentaler decision" (January 15, 2008, Vol 5 No 1). This is a vivid reminder of why it's vital that women should ultimately be in charge of their own bodies and reproduction. It's thanks to the courageous and selfless work of women and men like Henry Morgentaler that we live in a just and humane society. We have a long way to go before we achieve full economic and social equality in Canada, but we're a lot further ahead than we would be had it not been for the historic victory won twenty years ago. I couldn't imagine practicing family medicine in a society that condemned women to illness, despair and possibly death as a result of lack of reproductive choice.

Dr Adam Newman, Kingston, ON

To coerce or legislate a person to do something he or she believes is immoral or incorrect is a contradiction of our Canadian Bill of Rights. To maintain the integrity of our healthcare system physicians must be autonomous moral agents. We should have the right to refuse to refer a patient for a procedure, which puts their life, or the life of another at risk — unless there is evidence based on scientific literature that the patient's life would be 'better.' There is no evidence that abortion improves quality or quantity of life for a mother with an unplanned pregnancy. Scientific research since 2005 shows that women who have had induced abortions suffer a higher than average rate of depression, suicide attempts, and non-accidental death in addition to having a higher than average number of pre-term, extremely low birth weight infants with all their concomitant problems. In the 21st century we need to build our medical practice on ethics and evidence, not rhetoric and popular opinion.

Dr Deborah Zeni, Georgetown, ON

An open letter to Dr Morgantaler: I read your interview in the National Review of Medicine. All you state makes sense if you are correct in your assertion that, with respect to women's health, "the safety of women has increased a hundredfold." If by aborting a fetus you have made women healthier, you are indeed a hero. If you are wrong, you are one of the greatest contributors to increasing rates of suicide, breast cancer, mental illness, and smoking, etc, among women. I have done careful studies, which show you are terribly wrong. If I am wrong, I owe you and many women an apology. If not, will you apologize?

Dr Philip G Ney, Victoria, BC

OILSANDS MD
There is a significant error in your "Oilsands whistleblower MD cleared" (January 15, 2008, Vol 5 No 1) article. Alberta Health and Wellness did not take part in filing any complaint against Dr O'Connor, nor did we try to stop him from coming forward. To the contrary, we have been trying for nearly two years (numerous phone calls, emails and letters) to get him to come forward with his clinical evidence to substantiate his claims of five cases of cholangiocarcinoma in Ft Chipewyan. To date, he still has not.

Howard May, Alberta Health and Wellness

Editor's response
Although Alberta Health and Wellness is not officially listed on the complaint filed against Dr O'Connor, their employees continue to assist Health Canada in pursuing action against him.

Contrary to the ministry's claims, Dr O'Connor says he has never received emails, letters or phone calls and the charge of "blocking access to files" has been thrown out. The manager of the nursing station where his patient's files are held has said she is the one blocking file access.

AIR SCARE
I commend Dr Henry Coopersmith "Is there a doctor on board?" (September 30, 2007, Vol 4, No 16) for taking action and sympathize with Dr Schemmer in "Mile-high drudge" (Nov 15-30, 2007, Vol 4, No 19). In the 90s my wife and I went on a holiday to the Far East on Cathay Pacific. After a trip to the lavatory I ended up attending to a man experiencing chest pain. He seemed in a fair bit of distress, diaphoretic, but the overriding concern of the airline staff was not so much the man but whether they needed to divert the airplane. He spoke no English, so it took a few minutes and a trial of nitroglycerin to sort the issue out. It turned out to be nothing more than some gastritis, likely secondary to generous alcohol intake, from which he obtained good relief from my personal supply of antacid. It was just as well, as the medical kit with which I was presented was woefully inadequate. As soon as we established that the problem wasn't life-threatening the staff disappeared. I wasn't offered so much as a firm handshake, let alone any frequent flyer points, and I never got back to sleep for the remainder of the flight. With that sort of history, I suppose the airline thinks 10,000 points is generous.

Dr Alan Lipson, Winnipeg, MB

A HELPING HAND
I thank you for reporting on initiatives such as Lifeline Malawi in "Calgary GP builds Malawi health from ground up" (December 15, 2007, Vol 4, No 20) and microfinance in "Give like Santa and save (taxes) like Scrooge" (December 15, 2007, Vol 4, No 20). Most physicians do 'live to serve,' and we need to be given information about deserving initiatives that are too small or too unconventional to attract the big bucks. I would far rather contribute to innovative, small ventures with big potential than many of the established charities where my donation may not do much good.

Dr David Copeland, Montreal, QC

CORRECTIONS

  • In "NS docs must report gunshots" (January 15, 2008, Vol 5 No 1), we should have noted that the Nova Scotia Legislature deleted all references to stab wounds from the proposed legislation and passed the Gunshot Wounds Mandatory Reporting Act. Physicians aren't to report patients with gunshot wounds directly to police; instead they alert a "prescribed person" at their facility that then alerts authorities.
  • In "Older MDs get break on CCFP written exam" (January 15, 2008, Vol 5 No 1), we incorrectly wrote that the oral portion of the exam would still be required for physicians who choose to pursue the new alternative route to become Certificants of the College of Family Physicians. In fact, neither the written nor oral portions of the exam will be required for those applicants. Also, the program is expected to take six to eight months to complete on a part-time basis, not six to eight weeks. We apologize for the errors.

 

Doctor, tell us what you think! Write to us at [email protected] or fax your letter to 514-397-0228
Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

 

 

 

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