Friday, August 19, 2011

Asbestos and Politics - The Plight Of Dr. Kellie Leitch

The other day I posted my response to my M.P. on the Canadian export of asbestos, questioning how a man such as he, committed to Christian principles, can really consider himself doing God's work by condemning to suffering and death those working unsafely with our export in developing countries.

As reported in The Toronto Star, a similar moral conflict has been exposed in an open letter signed by 250 doctors and public health professionals to Dr. Kellie Leitch, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon elected last spring as a Conservative Member of Parliament.

As reported in the article,

The letter writers say Leitch has a duty to influence her Conservative colleagues to pull the plug on a sector they say will spread deadly disease in poorer countries.

“We understand that doing the right thing may run counter to your political interests,” reads the letter from Canadian and international signatories as well as more than 20 organizations.

Reminding Dr. Leitch that she has a moral and professional obligation to live by the tenets of the Hippocratic oath, the letter continues,

“However, your ethical code of conduct as a medical doctor requires that you put the protection of health ahead of personal advantage, no matter what the circumstance.”

The Tories have long maintained that Canada’s chrysotile asbestos is safe when handled properly.

But the letter’s signatories, including physicians from prestigious universities such as Harvard and Columbia, argue there are no regulations in poorer countries to protect people from the harmful effects of the hazardous substance.

Perhaps an indication of whether politics will prevail over morality is suggested by the fact that Dr. Leitch was unavailable for comment, her office referring all questions on the matter to The Minister of Natural Resources.

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