Forcing a Hospice to Euthanize in Canada

National Review

Wesley J. Smith

Euthanasia is more than just legal in Canada. It has become a government-guaranteed right.

But how to guarantee that the legally qualified who want to die are made dead? Unless the government establishes killing centers out of Soylent Green, it will have to coerce doctors to do the killing or procure the euthanasia doctor -called “effective referral” — as has been done in Ontario. And, it will have to force medical facilities into allowing euthanasia on premises, whether their administators like it or not.

Such an imposition is now taking place in British Columbia, where the Delta Hospice board of directors are standing tall for the hospice philosophy of caring — but never killing — by refusing to permit euthanasia in the facililty. In response, the BC Health Minister is threatening to restrict funding in the single-payer system, which, ironically, would undercut the facilities ability to care optimally for their patients who don’t want to be killed. From the Globe and Mail story:

A B.C. hospice society that refuses to provide medical assistance in dying at its facility in violation of local rules has been given until Thursday to submit plans for compliance.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the Delta Hospice Society, which operates the Irene Thomas Hospice in Ladner, may face penalties if it fails to do so.

“We’ve asked them … to provide their plan to fulfill their contract with the Fraser Health Authority and it is our expectation that they will,” Mr. Dix said on Wednesday. “Should they not want to fulfill their contract with Fraser Health, there may well be consequences of that.”

It it my understanding that there is a Fraser hospital directly across the street from the hospice where patients are euthanized. It would be easy to move hospice patients who want to have that done to the hospital where they could be put down according to their desire. But even if that weren’t true, so long as the hospice advises patients that euthanasia is not permitted on site, why force the issue? Why threaten to bring financial ruin upon a small, heterodox-managed institution?

Because of the message that Delta sends that euthanasia is morally wrong and an improper way to treat terminally ill patients. That is what burns. Hence, the authoritarian response of the government.

This is both a civil rights issue and a matter of basic compassion. Think about the patient in the next bed who values life and knows that his neighbor is being killed by a doctor. That would be both terrifying and morale destroying because of the cruel message communicated that his life — like that of the neighbor — is no longer deemed worth protecting.

The ongoing assault on medical conscience in Canada demonstrates how the culture of death brooks no dissent. The same thing will happen here if we let the wolf in the door. Those with eyes to see, let them see.

Bill 207 may have served its true purpose

Medicine Hat News

Jeremy Appel

Bill 207 has been aborted, at least for the time being.

The controversial piece of legislation, which would have allowed health-care providers to refuse to provide certain medical services under the guise of “freedom of conscience,” was quashed Thursday night in committee.

It was a thinly-veiled effort to roll back abortion, assisted suicide and transgender rights as a concession to the religious right. It rightfully provoked fierce public backlash from the very health-care providers whose rights it purported to protect. . . [Full text]

UCP’s shutdown of conscience rights bill can’t mask firing of commissioner

Edmonton Journal

Keith  Gerein

For Albertans dismayed at the political cynicism on display during the breakneck passage of Bill 22, it was gratifying to see an otherwise disheartening week at the legislature end with one small act of democratic redemption.

Like finding a precious keepsake that survived a fire, the rejection of Bill 207 by a legislature committee Thursday night restored at least some faith that not all is lost with Alberta’s politics.

Such an outcome was vital, not just for stopping legislation that could have done real harm to patients in the name of imagined threats to “conscience rights,” but also for the process which actually saw UCP and NDP MLAs engage in a (mostly) thoughtful discussion and come to a commendable conclusion. . .[Full text]

Beware the “Fake News” on Conscience Rights

Cutting Through the Abortion Distortion on Protections for Pro-Life Medical Professionals

American Center for Law and Justice

Francis J. Manion

You may have seen this past week headlines from a variety of news outlets loudly proclaiming the death of conscience rights: “Trump’s ‘conscience rule’ for health providers blocked by federal judge.” “Second federal judge strikes down Trump’s ‘conscience protection’ rule for health care providers.” Both the headlines and, for the most part, the stories themselves give the impression that, as usual, the independent federal judiciary has had to come to the rescue of all that is good and true by thwarting the latest attempt by “Trump” and his “religious right” henchpeople to impose their troglodyte, Taliban-esque views on Americans who just want to be treated in hospitals and doctors’ offices without interference from small-minded religious fanatics.

But it’s fake news. The decisions of the U.S. District Courts in New York and Washington addressed a set of administrative regulations – housekeeping stuff – adopted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services earlier this year for how HHS wants to go about interpreting and enforcing pre-existing conscience protection laws. The laws themselves remain untouched and, as the New York court made clear, its decision leaves HHS at liberty to enforce existing conscience laws and to adopt rules governing how they go about doing that. . . [Full text]

From conception to cremation, Bill 207 could deny wide range of services

Calgary Herald

Sharon Polsky (Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association)

Anyone who lives in a remote rural area knows the frustration and potential danger of being unable to get immediate emergency medical services. Now imagine if the only emergency physician in town refused to help because you don’t attend his church. Bill 207 gives such gatekeeping authority, with the power to affect all Albertans, from conception to cremation. . . [Full text]

Is conscience rights bill the first shot in a culture war?

Calgary Herald

Robe Breakenridge

The mere existence of a private member’s bill that potentially addresses some hot-button moral issues does not mean that Premier Jason Kenney has broken his vow to not reopen or legislate on such matters.

However, we won’t really know for sure until we see how Kenney decides to respond to Bill 207. Social and religious conservatives are likely watching closely to see how much of their agenda they can convince this premier to adopt. Everyone else should be watching closely, too.

Albertans elected a government that would get our finances in order and help spur investment and job creation in this province. Waging a culture war is not high on the list of priorities. . . [Full text]

Bill 207 challenges abortion access based on ‘conscience’

Calgary Herald

Don Braid

. . . The episode masked a much more consequential matter this week — the introduction of Bill 207, called the “Conscience Rights (Health Care Providers Protection Act.)”

It might seem innocuous at first, but this bill is a significant backdoor effort to limit patient access to abortion, all in the name of conscience.

The private member’s bill, sponsored by Peace River UCP MLA Dan Williams, will be debated and quite possibly passed.

It provides immunity from complaint or discipline to health providers that refuse to deal with patients whose needs offend their conscience. . . [Full text]

Health service professionals who object to taking part in abortions must be protected

If the new legislation is introduced here, a conscientious objection clause is required, argues Alban Maginness

Belfast Telegraph

Alban Maginness

The easiest thing to do when things become contentious in your working life is to keep your head down and your mouth shut. But remarkably last week, 815 doctors, nurses and midwives didn’t do that, but sent a strongly worded letter of protest to Secretary of State Julian Smith expressing opposition to any change in the abortion legislation here. They are so incensed by the undemocratic imposition by Westminster of an extreme abortion regime on the health service in Northern Ireland that they had to speak out publicly. . . [Full text]

Why people choose medically assisted death revealed through conversations with nurses

The Conversation
Reproduced under Creative Commons Licence

Barbara Pesut*, and Sally Thorne*

Since Canada legalized Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) in 2016, as of Oct. 31, 2018, more than 6,700 Canadians have chosen medications to end their life.

Canadians who meet eligibility requirements can opt to self-administer or have a clinician administer these medications; the vast majority of people choosing MAiD have had their medications delivered by physicians or nurse practitioners. Canada is the first country to permit nurse practitioners to assess for medically assisted dying eligibility and to provide it. . . .

. . . Our most recent research involved interviews with 59 nurse practitioners or registered nurses across Canada who accompanied patients and families along the journey of medically assisted dying or who had chosen to conscientiously object. Nurses worked across the spectrum of care in acute, residential and home-care settings. . . .[Full Text]

Pope Francis on conscientious objection by health care practitioners

La Croix misrepresents papal statement

Sean Murphy*

Pope FrancisAn article in La Croix International, “Pope reminds health workers to put patients first” includes a subtitle, “Conscientious objectors told that human dignity demands exceptions sometimes be made.” (La Croix International, 20 May, 2019)

The subtitle reflects speculation by critics unidentified by the article’s anonymous author(s) that the Pope’s comments were aimed at “pro-lifers who may object to performing an abortion, even though the mother may, for various reasons, risk serious and even life-threatening physical or psychological trauma should she try to conceive.”

La Croix appears to be alone among news agencies in putting this “spin” upon the Pope’s address (Compare reports by Crux, Vatican News, ANSA, and the Catholic Herald, for example).

“[T]o put patients first” accurately conveys one of Pope Francis’ messages to the Italian Catholic Association of Health Care Workers.

“Conscientious objectors told that human dignity demands exceptions sometimes be made” does not.

Nothing in the text of the of the Pope’s address remotely suggests that human dignity sometimes requires health care workers to set aside their conscientious convictions and their objections and do what they believe to be wrong.

Pope Francis said nothing of the kind.  But that is precisely the kind of demand made by activists and even state authorities in a number of countries, even (as in Canada) to the extent of forcing unwilling practitioners to be parties to killing their patients or helping them commit suicide.

The misrepresentation exemplified in the La Croix article supports such attacks on freedom of conscience (and religion) and exacerbates the problems faced by healthcare practitioners attempting to resist them.

What Pope Francis actually had to say warrants attention by anyone who wants to understand the exercise of freedom of conscience by health care practitioners.

He noted that “any medical practice or intervention on the human being must first be carefully assessed if it actually respects human life and dignity (“di ogni pratica medica o intervento sull’essere umano si deve prima valutare con attenzione se rispetti effettivamente la vita e la dignità umana.”) .

When health care practitioners refuse to provide procedures or services, it is typically because they have made that assessment,and consider the interventions contrary to the good of the human person and subversive of the integrity and dignity of human life: in brief, harmful to the patient.

Conscientious objection in such circumstances, the Pope said, does not just reflect the need to preserve one’s personal integrity, but “also represents a sign for the healthcare environment in which we find ourselves, as well as for the patients themselves and their families” ( “ma rappresenta anche un segno per l’ambiente sanitario nel quale ci si trova, oltre che nei confronti dei pazienti stessi e delle loro famiglie. “)

In many situations, this “sign” may well be a sign of contradiction to the dominant ethos, likely to trigger violent emotional reactions and repression by state or professional authorities. Hence, for purely pragmatic reasons, it behooves objecting practitioners to be careful in expressing themselves. Beyond this, Pope Francis offers advice that reflects the actual practice of practitioners who responsibly exercise freedom of conscience:

La scelta dell’obiezione, tuttavia, quando necessaria, va compiuta con rispetto, perché non diventi motivo di disprezzo o di orgoglio ciò che deve essere fatto con umiltà, per non generare in chi vi osserva un uguale disprezzo, che impedirebbe di comprendere le vere motivazioni che ci spingono. È bene invece cercare sempre il dialogo, soprattutto con coloro che hanno posizioni diverse, mettendosi in ascolto del loro punto di vista e cercando di trasmettere il vostro, non come chi sale in cattedra, ma come chi cerca il vero bene delle persone. Farsi compagni di viaggio di chi ci sta accanto, in particolare degli ultimi, dei più dimenticati, degli esclusi: questo è il miglior modo per comprendere a fondo e con verità le diverse situazioni e il bene morale che vi è implicato.

The choice of the objection, however, when necessary, must be made with respect, so that what must be done with humility, so as not to generate an equal contempt, which would prevent the understanding of the true motivations that drive us. Instead, it is good to always seek dialogue, especially with those who have different positions, listening to their point of view and trying to transmit yours, not as someone who goes up in the chair, but as someone who seeks the true good of people. Be the traveling companions of those around us, especially the last, the most forgotten, the excluded: this is the best way to fully understand the different situations and the moral good that is involved.

Source: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Discorso del Santo Padre Francesco all’ Assocziazone Cattolica Operatori Sanitari (ACOS).  Sala Clementina, Venerdì, 17 maggio 2019.

Photo by Nacho Arteaga on Unsplash