The CCRL strongly opposes the College of Nurses of Ontario’s Physician-Assisted Death: Interim Guidance for Nursing in Ontario

News Release

Catholic Civil Rights League

TORONTO, ON March 24, 2016 – The Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) sent the following letter to the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) in opposition to Physician-Assisted Death: Interim Guidance for Nursing in Ontario on grounds that its main recommendation seriously violates a nurse’s freedom of conscience and religion.

College of Nurses of Ontario
101 Davenport Rd. Toronto,
ON M5R 3P1

March 24, 2016

RE: College of Nurses of Ontario’s Physician-Assisted Death: Interim Guidance for Nursing in Ontario

The Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) strongly opposes the College of Nurses of Ontario’s Physician-Assisted Death: Interim Guidance for Nursing in Ontario on grounds that its main recommendation seriously violates a nurse’s freedom of conscience and religion. Page 3 of the document states:

…some nurses may have conscientious objections to participating in physician-assisted death. Both the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying of the Parliament of Canada and the Provincial-Territorial Expert Advisory Group on Physician-Assisted Dying have recommended that health care professionals who have conscientious objections should refer or transfer a client to another health care provider. If no other caregiver can be arranged, you must provide the immediate care required.

We are hopeful that your suggestion of “immediate care” is in the noble tradition of the nursing profession to preserve life, and to provide medical assistance to save lives.  However, our fear is that your proposed guideline is suggestive that a nurse will be obliged in such circumstances to engage in the new Orwellian concept of “medical aid in dying”, a prospect for which polling suggests a majority of your membership vigorously disagrees.

If the final statement and the directive “you must provide the immediate care required” is intended to mean “medical aid in dying”, then your College has asserted the most jarringly outrageous example of forcing a health care professional to violate his or her conscience that has been proposed by any regulatory body in Canada. It even outweighs the aforementioned recommendations of the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying of the Parliament of Canada and the Provincial-Territorial Expert Advisory Group on Physician-Assisted Dying.

Whereas the CCRL submits that euthanasia and assisted suicide in itself is morally and ethically wrong, compelling another person to be involved in this morally and ethically depraved act is no less wrong.  As interveners in Carter,the CCRL focussed on the impact to health care in general and to the conscience rights of health care workers specifically.  We strongly advocated for a robust understanding and protection of the Charter right of freedom of conscience and religion.

The right to avoid moral complicity in assisted suicide and euthanasia is an essential part of one’s religious and conscientious freedom.

The CCRL appeals to the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) to strike from the interim guidance document the necessity to “provide the immediate care required” if “no other caregiver can be arranged.” This compulsion is morally unacceptable.

It is also unacceptable that nurses are treated so poorly, by their own governing college, no less. Instead of limiting nurses’ rights and violating their constitutional right to freedom of conscience and religion, the CNO ought to instead advocate for nurses who conscientiously object to euthanasia and assisted suicide.

As with any regulatory entity, the CNO has no business second-guessing the validity of sincerely held religious beliefs, exercised in the course of one’s professional judgment.

Christian Domenic Elia, PhD
Executive Director
Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) celia@ccrl.ca

Philip Horgan
President
Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) ccrl@ccrl.ca


About the CCRL

Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) (www.ccrl.ca) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. The CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization with a large nationwide membership base. The CCRL is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.

For further information:

Christian Domenic Elia, PhD
CCRL Executive Director
416-466-8244 @CCRLtweets

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.