Violation of Physicians’ Freedom of Conscience and Unrestricted Euthanasia Admidst Canada’s Escalating Healthcare Crisis
Concerned Ontario Doctors
Join Concerned Ontario Doctors for our inaugural International Summit with world-renowned speakers as we begin a crucial national and international conversation exploring the medical ethics of Canada’s rapidly changing medical and legal landscapes.
Wednesday, March 25, 2020 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm Isabel Bader Theatre Victoria Univeristy in the University of Toronto 93 Charles St. West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I just can’t understand why as learned as you are, you tenaciously use the verb KILL to refer to MAD. You cannot ignore that this verb requires a non-consenting victim. It makes of you a malicious pro-lifer who does not mind lying. MAD must be requested ! Camus wrote: «To misname things amount to adding to the world’s misery»…in La Pléiade, Oeuvres complètes p. 908.
This message was left for the Project Administrator by a member of the Clinicians’ Advisory Council of Dying With Dignity (DWD) Canada after he/she had downloaded several papers from the Administrator’s Academia web page.
The downloaded papers do not challenge the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide (EAS). The substantive morality of the procedures and their legalization is outside the scope of Project advocacy. The papers simply defend practitioners unwilling to be parties to killing their patients by providing or facilitating EAS services.
Unfortunately, the DWD Clinical Advisor was exasperated by the description of euthanasia and assisted suicide as “killing.” This, he/she exclaims, is a malicious lie that adds to the world’s misery.
Such a cri de cœur calls for a thoughtful discussion of the question it raises.
Does providing euthanasia and assisted suicide entail killing — or does it not? [Full text]
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]
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]
Hospice begs permission to refuse $750,000 in state funding
Euthanasia and assisted suicide available in state hospital next door
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
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
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
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.
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.
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]
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.