Ban on assisted dying at St. Martha’s hospital should end, says law prof

Religious hospital in Antigonish, N.S., has agreement with province allowing it to forego MAID provision

CBC News

Frances Willick

Nova Scotia’s only Catholic hospital is at risk of being found in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and human rights legislation by refusing to provide medical assistance in dying, a Halifax law professor says.

St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish, N.S., is a publicly funded health-care facility. But due to its religious ties, staff are not permitted to provide MAID. . . [Full text]

Lack of preparation for abortion services

The Irish Times (Letters)

Sir, – Special adviser, Dr Peter Boylan stated that the new abortion services will be “unrecognisable” in a year’s time from how they will appear on January 1st – the date for implementation set by Minister for Health Simon Harris. (Home News, December 16th). This comment is a cause of deep concern for clinicians who will be working in maternity units on day one and afterwards, when these services are rolled out. . .

. . . we will insist that the HSE and the Department of Health meet their responsibilities and commit to ongoing engagement with clinicians to resource our maternity units to the highest standards. The understandable passion to finally provide abortion care in Ireland should not blind us to the clinical reality of how unprepared we are. . .

Dr. Bridgette Byrne,Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital & RCSI;

Prof. Chris Fitzpatrick, Associate Prof. Mairead Kennelly, Associate Prof. Aisling Martin, Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital & UCD;

Dr. Sharon Sheehan,Master/CEO, Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital;

Dr. Keelin O’Donoghue, CorkUniversity Maternity Hospital & UCC;

Dr. Noirin Russell, Cork UniversityMaternity Hospital;

Prof. Fionnuala McAuliffe, NationalMaternity Hospital & UCD;

Dr. Peter McParland,National Maternity Hospital;

Dr. Jenny Walsh, National Maternity Hospital

Dr Nandini Ravikumar, Midland Regional Hospital at Mullingar;

Ass. Prof. Elizabeth Dunn, Wexford General Hospital & UCD & Dr. Francois Gardeil, Wexford General Hospital.

145 GPs and nine hospitals sign up to provide medical abortions

Irish Independent

Eilish O’Regan

JUST 145 GPs have signed up so far to provide medical abortions from January.

The relatively low number means that some women will have to travel for the service.

Around 39 of these GPs have not agreed to their names being given out to women in crisis who ring up a 24/7 helpline for counselling and direction to the nearest service. . . [Full text]

Alberta health minister reviewing rules around assisted dying at faith-based facilities

Sarah Hoffman acknowledges public complaints following CBC News investigation

CBC News

Jennie Russell

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman says her ministry is reviewing options that would allow Alberta Health Services to provide medical assistance in dying at faith-based health facilities while respecting religious objections, although she cautions the province is “not there yet.”

In an interview, Hoffman said she has received public feedback urging her to reverse her 2016 exemption that allowed Catholic health provider Covenant Health, which is publicly funded, to opt out of providing access to the procedure. . . [Full text]

All but two counties in Republic have GPs willing to do abortions

Service planners understood to be satisfied with GP uptake and geographical spread

The Irish Times

Paul Cullen

GPs in 24 of the 26 counties of the Republic have indicated their willingness to perform medical abortion under the new legislation coming into force on January 1st.

The vast majority of the State’s 19 maternity units, including a majority of smaller units outside Dublin and Cork, have also stated their preparedness to provide surgical abortion in the new year, according to sources. . . [Full text]

Supreme Court opines on limitations of GPs’ freedom of conscience

International Law Office

Lise Gran, Ole Kristian Olseby

The Supreme Court recently deemed that a municipality’s termination of its agreement with a general practitioner (GP) after she refused to insert an intrauterine device (IUD) for a patient for reasons of conscience relating to her religion was invalid.

Legal background

The criterion for terminating an agreement with a GP is the same as that for terminating an employment agreement under Norwegian law (ie, it must be objectively justified). . . [Full text]

Abortion is legal in Italy, but most doctors refuse to perform them

Public Radio International

The World Staff

Italy legalized abortion 40 years ago. But according to a group of Italian gynecologists, access to the procedure has been declining for years now.

The main reason is that fewer doctors who work in Italy’s public health facilities are willing to perform abortions. Italy’s abortion law requires all hospitals to provide access to the procedure. But the law also gives gynecologists the option to declare themselves “conscientious objectors.”

“For example, in the public University of Rome, we have more than 60 doctors but only two provide abortion, only two,” said Silvana Agatone, a gynecologist in Rome. . . [Full text]

Chilean court: Private health facilities can’t be forced to do abortions


Catholic News Agency

SANTIAGO, Chile – A Chilean court has ruled that private healthcare facilities may conscientiously object to abortions, declaring unconstitutional a law that had gone into effect in October.

By a vote of 8-2, the nation’s Constitutional Court struck down a portion of the Regulation on Conscientious Objection of the Law on Abortion. The court accepted a Dec. 6 appeal filed by senators of the Chile Vamos coalition which sought to annul part of the Department of Health regulation. . .[Full text]

Alarming gap in assisted dying in Antigonish

The Chronicle Herald

Jocelyn Downie

Today (Dec. 17) marks two and a half years since the coming into force of Canada’s federal legislation on medical assistance in dying (MAiD).

In Nova Scotia, MAiD has now been requested in about 400 cases and provided in about 200. Unfortunately, there is one particularly notable gap in access to MAiD: St. Martha’s Regional Hospital, a publicly funded faith-based institution in Antigonish, refuses to allow MAiD within its walls. . . [Full text]

Hospital, care-home policies must change so more people can access medical assistance in dying

The Province

Alex Muir

. . . an individual who is suffering intolerably and whose death is reasonably foreseeable has a constitutional right to medical assistance in dying (MAiD) if certain other criteria are met. . .

. . . most people in Vancouver’s West End will end up at St. Paul’s, a hospital run by Catholic-based Providence Health, which doesn’t allow MAiD to be performed in any of its facilities. Anyone wanting to access MAiD once at St. Paul’s must be transferred to Vancouver General Hospital or another willing facility. . .

. . . end the practice of forced transfers by insisting that all taxpayer-funded facilities, including Providence facilities, provide MAiD on site. . .[Full text]