Politicians call on public to oppose Fraser Health making hospices offer euthanasia

Surrey Now Leader

Heather Colplitts

Fraser Health’s decision to have hospices offer medically assisted dying prompted a couple hundred people to gather Saturday to discuss how to fight back.

A Saturday evening meeting about the local health authority allowing medical assistance in dying (MAiD) included a discussion on whether there’s a possible legal case, and what people, hospice societies and volunteers can do if they disagree with the health authority.

All B.C. health authorities have said their various facilities would provide MAiD. Fraser Health funds the hospice residence near Langley Memorial Hospital where terminally ill people are able to receive care. The society has offices and space for its various bereavement programs at 20660 48th Ave. and has a contract with Fraser Health to provide volunteers for the residence. . . [Full Text]

The Alarming Trend Of Bullying Hospitals And Hospices Into Assisted Suicide

Huffington Post

Reproduced with permission

Dr. Will Johnston

Canadians who are sick and suicidal can now be put to death under various medicalized and government-approved protocols, following court and legislative victories by euthanasia activists. These activists are now turning their considerable talents to a coercive makeover of the palliative hospice movement by demanding that hospices founded on a promise to never deliberately hasten death should provide a death

Before they got their way in the Canadian Supreme Court, the public posture of euthanasia advocates was one of caution, reassurance and limitation of objectives. After their victory, partisans of the medical killing movement have become impatient with individuals or institutions who want no part in suicide and euthanasia. Activists recommend expanding access to include all the people who were strategically excluded from the plan that had been sold to the public: children, people with chronic nonfatal conditions, the physically disabled, the cognitively disabled, psychiatric patients.

Now, even changing the location of a patient requesting suicide — from a euthanasia-free hospital or hospice, to one that does offer it — is being protested as a cruel imposition. In doing so, the death-seeking person is set up as a victim, and the hospital or hospice is portrayed as a victimizer. Never mind that hospital wards routinely transport people in complete comfort to procedures like X-rays or scopes, or to another location to continue care.

The implications of this are dire. Many hospices serve patients who want nothing to do with assisted suicide, and there will be much harm done by forcing it into their midst. Every community in this country has the resources to provide a distinct euthanasia-free space. That distinct space and its staff could be specialized and uncoerced into death-hastening.

The unpleasant alternative was demonstrated by the recent “sneak attack” on Louis Brier Hospital, a Jewish retirement home in Vancouver. This was the work of euthanasia activist Ellen Wiebe, idolized by like-minded columnists for her aggressive death-providing practice. Rather than arrange a simple transfer — perhaps to the home of one of the suicidal father’s daughters — the patient was killed by Dr. Wiebe against the firm policy of a facility with an understandable aversion to euthanasia.

As Louis Brier’s director protested, “We have a lot of Holocaust survivors. To have a doctor sneak in and kill someone without telling anyone. They’re going to feel like they’re at risk when you learn someone was sneaking in and killing someone.”

What Dr. Wiebe was doing by giving the finger to Louis Brier is a form of ethical bullying, masquerading as an altruistic claim that her client should come first and trump other people’s rights about the kind of place they want to live in.

Wanting Dr. Wiebe to kill you is a tragedy, not an emergency. It is a personal preference, sadly now provided by the Canadian health-care system, but without any judicial or parliamentary authorization to force others to accept involuntary proximity to your actions. It is also, increasingly, about people who are not dying, except in Dr. Wiebe’s elastic interpretation, but about those who have lost meaning and hope. What they get from the euthanasia provider amounts to a heartless endorsement of the hopelessness of their situation, cloaked in the language of autonomy.

Rather than look for a win-win compromise over this issue, the board of Fraser Health Authority, a large B.C. hospital system, has imposed euthanasia provision in all its palliative hospices. This edict, totally uncalled for by provincial or federal guidelines, caused the high-profile resignation of Palliative Care Medical Director Dr. Neil Hilliard.

Meanwhile, our governments are, in Dr. Hilliard’s words, “guilty by neglect” of a “palliative care access gap,” and your sick family member who seeks care, not death, may not find it “equitable or timely.”

Forcing hospices to betray their no-kill founding principles will not close that gap, it will just torpedo the 40-year struggle to convince often-fearful patients that palliative hospices are not about hastening death.

Fraser Health and any other misled health bureaucracies across Canada should back down. Don’t bully hospices as though there are no fair alternatives. Don’t bully Catholic hospitals, founded on a reverence for life long before the public purse got involved.

B.C. hospices say they’ve been told to offer euthanasia

Lifesite News

Steve Weatherbee

BRITISH COLUMBIA, October 21, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Two of British Columbia’s five regional health authorities — one of them covering the “Bible Belt” area of the lower Fraser River valley just east of Vancouver — apparently have told voluntary societies offering hospice and palliative care that they must provide euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The Fraser Health Authority and its unnamed ally are not only flying in the face of — and against the philosophies and binding constitutions of most if not all the province’s 73 voluntary hospice societies — they have done so without consulting the hospice societies in their own regions. Apparently they have also jumped the gun on the provincial Health Ministry, which is months away from finalizing its own policy. . . [Full text]

Judge rules family cannot order caregivers to starve mother to death

In a 44 page judgement, Mr. Justice Greyell of the Supreme Court of British Columbia has ruled that family members cannot order caregivers at a nursing home to starve an 83 year old resident to death.  Margot Bentley, age 83, is in the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease.  Based on written instructions she left before being diagnosed with the disease, family members went to court to stop caregivers from spoonfeeding her when she opened her mouth to accept food.  The judge noted that she is not dying, and that to comply with their wishes wold mean that Mrs. Bentley would die from starvation and dehydration and not an underlying disease.

Having considered the evidence, he rejected the claim that Mrs.  Bentley is in a “vegetative state” as “neither useful nor accurate,” concluding, instead, that it was possible that she had sufficient mental function to decide whether or not to eat and drink and to communicate that decision in non-verbal ways.  He held that spoon-feeding was not “health care” within the meaning of the law, but a form of personal care.  While he agreed that, under the common law, a competent adult can refuse food and fluids and thus commit suicide, he ruled that there was no legal precedent for the finding that such a decision could be made on behalf of an incompetent person by a proxy decision maker.  On the other hand he recognized statutory and public policy considerations that would tell against such a finding.

The case is of interest because it demonstrates how the kind of directives the family pursued in this case can generate conflicts of conscience among caregivers and health care workers.

Family goes to court to stop spoon-feeding of elderly mother in nursing home

82 year old Margot Bentley is living in a nursing home in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada, administered by the Maplewood Seniors Care Society, Fraser Health Authority and the government of British Columbia.  She has Alzheimer’s disease and is being spoon-fed because she can still swallow.  She is not force-fed if she does not open her mouth.  Her family has launched a civil suit to compel the nursing home to stop feeding her, citing her “living will” signed in 1991, about ten years before she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  The document states that she did not want “nourishment or liquids” if she is suffering from an incurable disease.  The defendant nursing home has filed another “living will” that states that she would accept “basic care.”  The authenticity of the document is disputed by the family.  The nursing home argues that spoon-feeding is basic care, not “medical” care or treatment, and is legally obligatory.  The family insists that spoon-feeding must be discontinued, since patients are entitled to refuse medical treatment or care, and Margot Bentley had stated that refusal in her “living will.”   [Vancouver Sun]