July 4, 2022
The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health
House of Commons
The Honourable Karina Gould
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
House of Commons
Re: Medico-Legal Implications of Canadian Physicians Providing Abortions to Non-Residents
The Canadian Medical Protective Association (“CMPA”) recognizes the significance of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning the Roe v. Wade decision that established the right to an abortion. Several American states have taken or will soon take steps to restrict abortion access. The CMPA is aware of the very real possibility that American patients may wish to come to Canada for abortion care. We understand many Canadians, including many of our physician members, have expressed interest in facilitating access to abortions for U.S. patients. At the same time, our members are expressing concern about increased risk of medico-legal difficulties arising outside of Canada when providing abortion services to patients who are not residents of Canada.
We are writing to ask that the federal government work with the provincial and territorial governments to ensure liability protection is available to Canadian physicians who may be subject to legal proceedings in the U.S. for providing abortion services to U.S. patients. Being able to reassure healthcare providers, particularly physicians, that they will have liability protection for legal actions brought in the U.S. against physicians providing abortion services to U.S. patients would go a long way in facilitating efforts to support U.S. patients in these difficult circumstances.
As you may know, the CMPA provides medico-legal assistance and liability protection to more than 105,000 physicians in Canada. Physician members are typically eligible for CMPA assistance in the event of medico-legal difficulties arising in Canada as a result of professional work done in Canada. Like other medico-legal providers, the CMPA is not structured to assist with medico-legal problems and legal actions that arise outside of Canada.
The CMPA is aware that some American states are contemplating legislation that would potentially allow for criminal charges and civil legal actions to be brought against health care providers who provide abortions to residents out of the state (even where the care is delivered outside of the state).
In light of the CMPA’s extent of assistance and the potential for physicians to become engaged in legal proceedings in the U.S., CMPA members providing abortion services to non-residents of Canada will require alternate liability protection for medico-legal matters arising in the U.S. from the delivery of abortions in Canada.
The CMPA is doing everything it can to support physicians who wish to provide abortion services to U.S. patients. However, the scope of the issue is larger than the CMPA can address on its own. It is therefore necessary for the government(s) to address the need for liability protection for criminal matters and civil actions brought in the U.S. against physicians providing abortion services in Canada to U.S. patients.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. If there is any further information the CMPA can provide with respect to these issues, I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss.
Lisa Calder, MD, MSc, FRCPC
Chief Executive Officer
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister ([email protected])
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister ([email protected])
Dr. Michael Cohen, President, Canadian Medical Protective Association
Catherine Gaulton, CEO, Healthcare Insurance Reciprocal of Canada