Canadian hospice struggles against state demand to allow euthanasia

Hospice begs permission to refuse $750,000 in state funding

Euthanasia and assisted suicide available in state hospital next door

News Release

Delta Hospice Society

Vancouver area hospice is asking the government to reconsider their proposal to give up $750,000 a year in funding so that it not be required to violate its mandate of care and compassion for patients by providing Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) at its facility.

The health authority’s demand is unnecessary, the hospice contends, noting that the MAiD option is widely available at many other facilities, including one next door.

By forfeiting the government funding, the hospice would be under the 50% threshold set by the government and therefore exempt from providing MAiD.

Angelina Ireland, President of the Delta Hospice Society, said that the Society’s Charter specifically mandates it to provide compassionate care and support for persons in the last stages of living, so that they may live as fully and comfortably as possible.

“Helping and supporting patients to live fully and comfortably in their last days and giving support to them and their families is what our patients and families come to us for and expect and it is certainly what our staff are dedicated to providing. Taking steps to end a patient’s life is not providing care and support so that ‘they may live fully.’”

Fraser Health Authority ordered the Delta Hospice Society late last year to provide Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) claiming that failure to do so would be a breach of the Society’s agreement with the authority.

Ireland said in order to comply with the Authority’s instruction it would have to violate its legal commitments under the province’s Societies’ Act which requires them to follow their Charter. Further, DHS is not in breach of the Agreement. There is nothing in the Agreement which requires DHS to provide MAiD or allow it to be provided on its premises. The FHA is attempting to amend the Agreement by making a unilateral decision to impose an obligation, which in itself would be a contravention of the Agreement. The Fraser Health Authority’s new directive puts the Hospice Society in a difficult position of either honouring their Charter and legal obligations or acceding to what she called “an agenda-driven demand which ignores ourprimary function and pays no heed to the needs or wants of those patients and families we are caring for.”

The Delta Hospice Society has tried to work with the health authority, explaining the dilemma the order places upon them, outlining their function to assist patients live fully in their final days before natural death, and offering options to help settle the dispute but the Fraser Health Authority has refused to budge.

On January 15, 2020, Delta Hospice Society wrote the Fraser Health Authority to ask that they reconsider the proposal to give up the $750,000 a year in funding so that they may benefit from the exemption set out in a Ministry of Health policy.

Ireland said that giving up the funding would cause the Society to focus exclusively on their Hospice operations. The other services the Society provides to the community would be put on the back burner until alternative funding partnerships can be established. The Society is committed to continuing to provide the quality care it has provided since its founding in 1991, and protecting the Society’s mandate and organizational integrity.

Ireland noted further that there are many locations where MAiD is already available to those wishing to avail themselves of that option, including a facility next door.

“Nobody wanting such a service would be prevented access. The issue is not accessibility. It seems to be a purely agenda-driven demand that runs rough shod over both Delta Hospice Society’s desire to live up to its legal requirements under our Charter, as well as ignoring the reality that we are dealing with patients and families in a very vulnerable and delicate position.”

“Our goal,” she added, “is to fulfill our mission. And that is to help patients and their loved ones live quietly, comfortably, and as fully as possible in their final days of life.”

She reiterated the hospice’s desire to negotiate an equitable arrangement with the Fraser Health Authority to maintain Delta Hospice’s role of serving its patients well.

Contact: Angelina Ireland 778-512-8088; irelandangelina@gmail.com

Christian doctors continue the fight for conscience protections

Christian Medical & Dental Associations will appeal decision blocking Trump admin Conscience Rule

News Release

Becket

WASHINGTON – Religious medical professionals in New York have announced that they appealed a district court’s decision to block vital conscience protections for doctors and nurses. In New York v. HHS, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is defending Dr. Regina Frost and the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA) from attempts by Planned Parenthood and New York officials to force religious doctors to perform life-ending procedures that violate their consciences. The Trump administration has until Jan. 6 to join the appeal from the district court’s decision, which struck down one of the administration’s signature regulations.

In May 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a Conscience Rule to better enforce longstanding, bipartisan laws that, for decades, have promised to allow religious doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals to serve patients without being required to violate their consciences. Medical professionals of all faith backgrounds and with moral objections rely on these well established protections. The Rule holds HHS funding recipients to agreements that they made under existing federal statutes to accommodate religious health professionals. But several states and abortion provider and advocacy organizations—including the State of New York and Planned Parenthood, which have long accepted HHS funds—immediately sued to avoid enforcement of their existing agreements under the Rule and to push religious healthcare professionals like Dr. Frost out of the medical profession.

“My faith is at the heart of who I am. It is what drives me to put the needs of women and their children first every day, and to serve everyone in my care with dignity and respect,” said Dr. Regina Frost. “If the government forces me to violate my faith and my medical judgment to perform abortions, I’ll have no choice but to leave the profession.”

Dr. Frost is an OB-GYN and one of nearly 19,000 medical professionals in CMDA serving vulnerable populations in the United States and abroad. Across the country, CMDA members serve the homeless, prisoners living with HIV, and victims of opioid addiction, sex trafficking, and gang violence. Overseas, CMDA members serve in war zones, refugee clinics, and remote areas without quality healthcare. The lawsuit by Planned Parenthood and New York needlessly threatens the health and well-being of at-risk, underserved populations across the globe. New polling shows that healthcare professionals are committed to serving all patients but are facing increasing pressures to perform in certain procedures, which they believe end life and violate their faith—and these pressures could force 91 percent of religious doctors out of the medical field.

In Nov. 2019, a New York district court ruled against the Conscience Rule. Yesterday, Dr. Frost and CMDA appealed this ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The deadline for the Trump administration to appeal the district court’s decision is Jan. 6, 2020.

“Like an ideological Grinch stealing conscience rights, Planned Parenthood is robbing not only religious doctors and nurses but also the patients that they serve,” said Daniel Blomberg, senior counsel at Becket. “To hear Planned Parenthood tell it, one pro-life OB-GYN is one too many. That’s wrong and it’s bad for healthcare. In a big, diverse country like ours, we can ensure that everyone will receive the care they need while still respecting the consciences of religious doctors and nurses.”

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, contact Ryan Colby at media@becketlaw.org or 202-349-7219. Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, or Spanish.

Position Paper of the Abrahamic Monotheistic Religions on Matters Concerning the End of Life

The position of Abrahamic religions on end of life and palliative care

News Release

Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development

Yesterday 28 October at the Casina PIo IV in the Vatican, 40 representatives of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths signed the joint Position Paper of the Abrahamic monotheistic religions on matters concerning the end of life.

Invited by the Pontifical Academy for Life, presided over by His Excellency Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the religious, including the Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development Peter K. A. Turkson, have committed themselves in 12 points to stating that euthanasia and assisted suicide are morally and intrinsically wrong and should be prohibited without exception. Any pressure and action on patients to end their lives is categorically rejected.

A very important point for the mission of the Dicastery is that concerning  Health Care Workers that states that no health care worker should be forced or subjected to pressure to witness directly or indirectly the deliberate and intentional death of a patient through assisted suicide or any form of euthanasia, especially when such practices go against the health care worker’s religious beliefs, because there should be always respect for conscientious objection to acts that conflict with a person’s ethical values. This remains valid, continues the Paper, even if such acts have been declared legal at a local level or by categories of persons.

Very significant, the joint declaration also addresses the spiritual and material accompaniment of the terminally ill and their families, as well as the use of medical technology at the end of life and the promotion of palliative care.

World Medical Association Reaffirms Opposition to Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide

News Release

World Medical Association

The World Medical Association has reaffirmed its long-standing policy of opposition to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.

After an intensive process of consultation with physicians and non physicians around the world, the WMA at its annual Assembly in Tbilisi, Georgia, adopted a revised Declaration on Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide.

This states: ‘The WMA reiterates its strong commitment to the principles of medical ethics and that utmost respect has to be maintained for human life. Therefore, the WMA is firmly opposed to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.’

It adds: ‘No physician should be forced to participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide, nor should any physician be obliged to make referral decisions to this end.’

The Declaration says: ‘Separately, the physician who respects the basic right of the patient to decline medical treatment does not act unethically in forgoing or withholding unwanted care, even if respecting such a wish results in the death of the patient.’

The revised Declaration defines euthanasia as ‘a physician deliberately administering a lethal substance or carrying out an intervention to cause the death of a patient with decision-making capacity at the patient’s own voluntary request.’

It says that physician-assisted suicide ‘refers to cases in which, at the voluntary request of a patient with decision-making capacity, a physician deliberately enables a patient to end his or her own life by prescribing or providing medical substances with the intent to bring about death.’

WMA Chair Dr. Frank Ulrich Montgomery said: ‘Having held consultative conferences involving every continent in the world, we believe that this revised wording is in accord with the views of most physicians worldwide.’

Doctors win right to challenge Royal College of Physicians’ controversial decision to go neutral on assisted suicide

News Release

Dermot Kearney, Kathy Myers, David Randall

A group of doctors have today won the legal right to challenge the Royal College of Physicians’ (RCP) controversial decision to go neutral on assisted suicide after overturning a ruling by the Charity Commission.

The doctors launched their legal action against Britain’s oldest medical group after it announced in March that the college was dropping its long-established opposition to assisted suicide, following a poll requiring a 60 per cent supra-majority.

At the time thousands of doctors voiced their concerns at decision to change the College’s position before consulting members, a failure to follow previous procedure and the unprecedented use of a supra- majority invalidated the poll. However, the RCP decided to press on with the change.

Following this decision, three doctors decided to launch legal action to review the decision and processes used by the College. They argued that the RCP had broken charity law. Despite agreement from the Charity Commission that it was a legally sustainable claim, the charities regulator withheld permission to allow the doctors to progress legal action, as they had already raised their concerns with the RCP and warned them not to repeat these mistakes.

Today, in the High Court, this decision by the Charity Commission has been reversed, giving the doctors a green light to take further action against the RCP.

Dr David Randall, one of the claimants commented: “Today’s judgement is good news for doctors and for society.

We believe that it is vitally important that doctors’ voices are heard on the issue of assisted dying, which if legalised would represent the single biggest change in the ethics and practice of medicine for a generation. The unsatisfactory way in which the College has approached this matter, ignoring the advice of its own ethics committee, has left it with a position of neutrality on assisted dying that prevents it from engaging in the public debate on this important issue. We expect the College to be active in championing key concerns such as the protection of vulnerable patients, the promotion of palliative care and hospice services, and the defence of conscientious objection for all healthcare practitioners. Doctors are not neutral about assisted dying, and neither should the College be.”

Paul Conrathe, Human rights solicitor from Sinclairslaw commented:

 “Today the court expressed its’ concern that the decision of the Royal College of Physicians to change its position to neutrality was unlawful and irrational. It was concerned that the College had adopted as its public position the least favoured option in its recent poll.

The College has suppressed the report of its own ethics committee into the results of the poll and adopted a supra-majority criteria that effectively pre-judged the outcome of that poll. Today the court has paved the way for the College to be brought to account.”

For media inquiries, please contact Alistair Thompson on 07970 162225.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

The Case In 2014 the College polled its member on changing the law on assisted suicide. They that nearly six in 10 (57.5 per cent) opposed any change.

The doctors contend that realising there was no appetite within the membership to support assisted suicide legislation, a small but influential group within the RCP sought to change the stance of the College to ‘neutral’ without consulting its members and then structuring a survey that required an unprecedented 60 per cent supra-majority in favour on continuing opposition to assisted suicide legislation.

Supra-majorities are usually used to prevent long-term constitutional changes being implemented by small but temporary majorities and thus they should always default to the status quo – in this instance opposition to legal change. Using a supra-majority in this consultation makes it almost inevitable that the College will drop its historic opposition to assisted suicide.

Crowdfunder

To help fund this legal challenge, on Friday 1 March, the doctors behind the JR launched a crowdfunder. It has already raised nearly £4,000 in just a few days.

The groups of doctors have made it clear any excess funds will be used at their discretion for related campaigns in opposition to assisted suicide. If there are remaining funds 12months after the conclusion of this case, they will go to the Association for Palliative Medicine.

You can see this here: https://www.gofundme.com/rcp-poll-challenge

Links

  • RCP to poll its members: https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/news/rcp- poll-its-members-assisted-dying
  • Survey closed at 5pm on 1 March: https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/news/rcp-poll-its-members- assisted-dying
  • Times covered the row that’s erupted thanks to the poll: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/bitter-split-on-assisted- dying-hits-royal-college-of-physicians-vlj38b63w
  • 1,500 doctors back campaign against ‘tacit support’ plan: https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1085158/assisted-dying- doctors-plea-campaign-health-debate-for-against-uk-dignitas
  • Judicial Review Crowdfunder: https://www.gofundme.com/rcp-poll- challenge The Doctors
  • Dr Dermot Kearney MRCP, Consultant Cardiologist, Gateshead
  • Dr Kathy Myers FRCP, Retired Consultant in Palliative Medicine, London
  • Dr David Randall MRCP, Registrar in Renal Medicine, London

Christian Medical Association Responds to Its Federal Court Victory Upholding Medical Judgment and Conscience Freedom

News Release

Christian Medical Association

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15, 2019 /Standard Newswire/ — The Christian Medical Association, the nation’s largest faith-based professional medical organization, responded today to their victory in federal court for the conscience rights of medical professionals. The case, Franciscan Alliance v. Azar, sought relief from a 2016 federal regulation that threatened to drive religious doctors out of practice if they would not perform gender-transition procedures that violate their medical judgment and beliefs. Today’s ruling struck down the rule.

CMA CEO Dr. Michael Chupp noted, “Today’s victory in our federal court case in Texas against government coercion means doctors can continue to exercise medical judgment and ethical care based upon sound medical evidence and Hippocratic standards of patient care instead of any ideology. As our national polling has proven, doctors of faith endeavor to care for all patients regardless of whether or not we agree with their choices or values. But we need the freedom to exercise medical judgment and conscience convictions in order to practice medicine ethically and to provide the best and safest care to our patients.”

CMA Vice President for Government Relations and Director of Freedom2Care Jonathan Imbody added, “We are thankful for Becket’s excellent representation of our membership and their cogent presentation to the court of the legal grounds for this decision, which included the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That law provides essential protections against the current drive to replace religious freedom with ideological coercion, and we must resist all attempts to nullify the law and its protections consistent with our First Amendment.”

Becket is also currently fighting for the conscience rights of religious doctors on behalf of Dr. Regina Frost and the Christian Medical Association, in another case, New York v. HHS.

Freedom2Care conscience polling: www.freedom2care.org/polling

CONTACT: Margie Shealy, 888-230-2637, 423-341-4254 cell, margie.shealy@cmda.org

Distinguishing between elective abortions and other medical interventions

Joint response to ACOG

News Release

American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Christian Medical Dental Association, American College of Pediatricians

As organizations representing over 25,000 medical professionals, we would like to correct the errors and assumptions of the recently released joint statement from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and Physicians for Reproductive Health (PRH).

We state unequivocally that there is a difference between elective abortion – a procedure done to ensure that a baby is born dead -and the separation of the mother and the baby in order to save the life of the mother. ACOG leadership is deceptively hiding behind the confusion about the meaning of the word “abortion” to imply that such treatments to save the life of the mother are the same as elective abortions.

A separation procedure to treat maternal pathology INTENDS to save the lives of both the mother and her baby if possible. In contrast, an abortion, which the general public understands to mean “elective abortion”, INTENDS to deliver a dead baby. That is why a baby born ALIVE after an elective abortion is called a “Failed Abortion”. The separation of the baby from the mother did not fail. What failed to occur is that her baby “failed” to be killed.

We are glad that ACOG and PRH leadership recognize what all pro-life obstetricians know – that sometimes treatments which result in the separation of the mother and the baby are necessary to save the mother’s life. However, ACOG and PRH leadership disingenuously imply in their statement that these life saving procedures are the same as elective abortions.

The ACOG leaders’ advocacy of elective abortion is out of step with the 85% of OB/GYN’s who do not perform abortions. Their extreme advocacy for elective abortion through birth does not represent the majority opinion of either ACOG membership, or the majority opinion of all the rest of the obstetricians and gynecologists in this country.

Respectfully,

Donna J. Harrison M.D. dip. ABOG
Executive Director
American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Mike Chupp MD, FACS, FCS(ECSA) CEO
Christian Medical Dental Association

Michelle Cretella, M.D.
Executive Director
American College of Pediatricians

Click Here to Download PDF

Abortion Can Be Medically Necessary

News Release

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Physicians for Reproductive Health

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Physicians for Reproductive Health released the following joint statement:

“The science of medicine is not subjective, and a strongly held personal belief should never outweigh scientific evidence, override standards of medical care, or drive policy that puts a person’s health and life at risk.

“Pregnancy imposes significant physiological changes on a person’s body. These changes can exacerbate underlying or preexisting conditions, like renal or cardiac disease, and can severely compromise health or even cause death. Determining the appropriate medical intervention depends on a patient’s specific condition.  There are situations where pregnancy termination in the form of an abortion is the only medical intervention that can preserve a patient’s health or save their life. 

“As physicians, we are focused on protecting the health and lives of the patients for whom we provide care. Without question, abortion can be medically necessary.”

Contact

Jen Girdish
jgirdish@prh.org
(646) 649-9927

ACOG Communications Office
Washington, DC
202-484-3321
communications@acog.org

USCCB Poll: Americans Support Conscience Protection for Healthcare Professionals

News Release

US Conference of Catholic Bishops

September 18, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Two new polls have revealed widespread discrimination against healthcare workers of faith, as well as broad public support for conscience rights laws and protections. The findings were released today by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committees on Pro-Life Activities; Religious Liberty; Domestic and Social Development; and the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, as well as the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), the largest faith-based association for healthcare professionals.
 
The findings come in the wake of enforcement actions taken by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) against the University of Vermont Medical Center, which is alleged to have coerced a nurse into participating in an abortion against her beliefs.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, of Kansas City in Kansas and Chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Bishop Robert J. McManus, of Worcester and Chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty; Bishop Frank J. Dewane, of Venice, and Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop James D. Conley, of Lincoln and Chairman of the Subcommittee for Promotion and Defense of Marriage offered the following statement on the findings:

“An overwhelming majority of Americans agree: no healthcare professional should be forced to violate deeply-held beliefs in order to keep a job. The practice of medicine depends on those courageous and generous enough to serve all people—especially the poor and marginalized—with the highest ethical standards. If we exclude people of faith from the medical profession, Americans will suffer, especially those most in need.”

For more information, click here: http://www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/conscience-protection-teleconference.cfm

Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

Christian Medical & Dental Associations reveal national survey findings on healthcare and conscience

News Release

Christian Medical & Dental Associations

Washington, D.C., September 18, 2019 — The Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA ), the nation’s largest faith-based association of health professionals, today released findings of a national survey showing that conscience-protecting laws and regulations help protect patient access to health care while addressing rampant discrimination against faith-based health professionals.

The survey, a nationwide poll of faith-based health professionals, conducted by Heart and Mind Strategies, LLC, found that 91 percent said they would have to “stop practicing medicine altogether than be forced to violate my conscience.” That finding holds significant implications for millions of patients, especially the poor and those in underserved regions who depend upon faith-based health facilities and professionals for their care.

The survey of faith-based health professionals also found that virtually all care for patients “regardless of sexual orientation, gender identification, or family makeup, with sensitivity and compassion, even when I cannot validate their choices.” The finding puts the lie to the charge that somehow conscience protections will result in whole classes of patients being denied care.

“Faith-based health professionals actually seek out and serve marginalized patients to provide compassionate care, ” explained CM D A CEO Emeritus Dr. David Stevens. “All we ask as we serve is that the government not intrude into the physician-patient relationship by dictating that we must do controversial procedures and prescriptions that counter our best medical judgment or religious beliefs .”

CM DA is currently represented by the Becket law firm in two related cases: Franciscan Alliance v. Azar , which addresses an Affordable Care Act transgender mandate, and New York v. HHS, which addresses a new federal conscience protection rule.

Detail on the poll of faith-based professionals can be found at CMDA-Poll and Freedom2Care.org