Delta Hospice would rather lose funding

Delta Optimist

Sandar Gyarmati

It looks like the leadership of the Delta Hospice Society has decided to forgo substantial funding from the Fraser Health Authority by refusing to provide Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD).

An article this week in The BC Catholic featured an interview with DHS board president Angelina Ireland who was quoted as saying the society rather lose funding, saying MAiD is completely incompatible with palliative hospice care. . . [Full text]

Alberta’s doctors say they worry about the effects of a conscience rights bill

The Globe and Mail

Christina Frangou

Dr. Jillian Demontigny keeps a rainbow bracelet wrapped around the stethoscope that she drapes across her neck. It’s her signal to any LGBTQ patient who arrives at her clinic: you are welcome here.

Dr. Demontigny is one of 13 physicians working at the Taber Clinic, a family medicine clinic in a southern Alberta town of 8,500 people. Over her 14 years in Taber, she has expanded her practice to offer extra supports for patients looking for the kind of health care that can be hard to access in this rural, conservative region, where anti-abortion billboards are posted along the highway. . . [Full text]

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

Indiana assisted suicide bill fails to protect objecting practitioners

Assisted suicide evolves from “assistance” to  “medical care”

Affirmation has serious consequences for objecting  Indiana physicians

Sean Murphy*

On 7 January, 2020, Representative Matt Pierce introduced HB1020: End of life options in the Indiana General Assembly. HB1020 is the fourth assisted suicide bill introduced by Pierce since 2017; three previous bills died in committee without hearings. Parts of HB1020 relevant to protection of conscience are reproduced on the Project website.

Overview

The bill permits physician assisted suicide for Indiana residents 18 years of age and older who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness likely to cause death within six months. [Full text]

New Hampshire assisted suicide bill introduced

Protection of conscience provision biased against objectors

Sean Murphy*

New Hampshire House Bill 1659 would legalize assisted suicide. Parts of the bill relevant to protection of conscience are reproduced on the Project website.

The bill permits physician assisted suicide for New Hampshire residents 18 years of age and older who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness likely to cause death within six months. Candidates who are capable of making and  communicating health care decisions must apply in writing for a lethal prescription (137-M:3); the application must be witnessed by two independent witnesses (137-M:4).  The candidate must apply personally; substitute medical decision makers cannot apply on behalf of a patient (137-M:3.III).

The bill imposes a number of obligations on physicians primarily responsible for treating a patient’s terminal illness (137-M:5) and upon physicians consulted by them about the illness (137-M:6).  These would be unacceptable to physicians who refuse to participate in assisted suicide for reasons of conscience.

Section 137-M:14 (Immunities) is the provision that is intended to protect objecting health care providers, which includes individuals and health care facilities.  The protection offered is biased in favour of those willing to participate in assisted suicide and insufficient to protect those unwilling to do so.  Specifically:

  • 139-M:14.I limits protection against civil, criminal and professional liability to persons willing to participate in assisted suicide; no protection is provided for those who refuse. It also prevents objecting institutional health care providers from taking action against employees who participate in assisted suicide on their premises.
  • 139-M:14.II protects both participants and non-participants equally, but also prevents objecting institutional health care providers from taking action against individuals who ignore prohibitions against assisted suicide on their premises.
  • 139-M14.III protects those providing assisted suicide drugs against negligence complaints, but does not similarly protect those who refuse to provide assisted suicide drugs.
  • 139-M14.IV declares that no health care provider is under a duty to participate in assisted suicide.  However, the provision is ambiguous because it is inconsistent with the lack of protection noted in 139-M4.I and III. 

Over 12,000 calls made to HSE helpline about unplanned pregnancies in first year of abortion services in Ireland

The Irish Sun

Julieann Corr

THERE were 12,080 calls made to the HSE helpline about unplanned pregnancies between January and the end of November 2019, estimate figures have revealed.

Data also shows that the MyOptions website was accessed over 331,000 times this year – in the first year of abortion services in Ireland.

Official figures regarding the operation of the service is set to be published during 2020. . .[Full text]

The anti-vaccination movement that gripped Victorian England

BBC News

Greig Watson

The distrust of doctors and government that feeds the anti-vaccination movement might be seen as a modern phenomenon, but the roots of today’s activism were put down well over a century ago.

In the late 19th Century, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in opposition to compulsory smallpox vaccinations. There were arrests, fines and people were even sent to jail.

Banners were brandished demanding “Repeal the Vaccination Acts, the curse of our nation” and vowing “Better a felon’s cell than a poisoned babe”. Copies of hated laws were burned in the streets and the effigy was lynched of the humble country doctor who was seen as to blame for the smallpox prevention programme. . . [Full text]

No one obliged to cooperate with ‘unjust’ NI abortion law – bishops

The Irish Catholic

Róise McGagh

Northern Ireland’s bishops have said new abortion laws in Northern Ireland are “unjust” and that no one is obliged to cooperate with them.

Currently there is a regulatory framework in place in the North that governs abortion provision until more permanent legislation is expected to be introduced in three months.

“The new regulatory framework in Northern Ireland should provide all health professionals including midwives, nurses and ancillary staff working in hospitals and other community settings with the right to refuse to participate in any aspect of the delivery of abortion services such as consultation, administration, preparation, in addition to the direct and intentional act of abortion itself,” the bishops said. They added this should include pharmacists. . .[Full text]

Here’s the deadline given to Delta Hospice

Delta Optimist

Sandor Gyarmati

The Fraser Health Authority has given the Delta Hospice Society a deadline to agree to provide medically assisted deaths.

The new board of the society has been on a collision course with the health region after reversing a decision by the previous board to not allow Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) at the Irene Thomas Hospice in Ladner.

A spokesperson with the region yesterday told the Optimist that the FHA “reached out again to the Delta Hospice Society to share our expectations that they comply to permit medical assistance in dying by February 3, 2020.” . . . [Full text]

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.