B.C. hospice may face penalties if it fails to make medically-assisted death available by deadline

The Globe and Mail

Andrea Woo, Wendy Stueck

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.” . . . [Full text]

Decision to ban assisted dying at Ladner hospice goes against Fraser Health policy

Irene Thomas is the only non-denominational hospice within Fraser Health that doesn’t allow assisted dying.

Vancouver Sun

David Carrigg

The decision by a Ladner hospice to ban medical assistance in dying in its facility is at odds with Fraser Health policy.

On Monday, the newly appointed hospice society president, Angelina Ireland, told staff and volunteers at its Irene Thomas Hospice that the board had repealed a recent decision by the old board to allow MAiD at the facility. . . [Full text]

Debate over conscience rights hasn’t cooled off in Alberta

Fifty Covenant Health physicians write open letter against Bill 207

Grandin Media

Kyle Greenham

A private member’s bill to protect the conscience rights of health professionals in Alberta is still fighting for survival.

United Conservative Party MLA Dan Williams plans to advocate for Bill 207, the Conscience Rights (Health Care Providers) Protection Act, well into the new year. Williams’ bill would ensure health practitioners — and organizations — can conscientiously decline a procedure without worry that they would be penalized or, at worst, lose their job. . .[Full text]

Doctors call for end of conscience rights bill up for discussion today

‘We don’t support abandoning our patients,’ Edmonton doctor says

CBC News

Anna McMillan

A controversial conscience rights bill that critics say would reduce access to health care is back up for discussion in the legislature Monday — and Edmonton doctors are urging the government to vote it down. 

On Nov. 21, the standing committee on private bills and private members’ public bills determined Bill 207 should not move forward for debate. The legislature will vote Monday on whether to accept the all-party committee’s recommendation.

“This bill needs to die,” said Dr. Shelley Duggan, a critical care physician who works at Covenant Health facilities in Edmonton. . . [Full text]

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]

Controversial conscience rights bill for Alberta physicians voted down

‘This is a very political thing and a very cynical thing and it is not about physicians’

CBC News

Wallis Snowdon

A controversial private member’s bill that called for more protection for Alberta health workers who invoke conscience rights was rejected Thursday by an all-party committee of the legislature. 

The Conscience Rights Act for Healthcare Workers, or Bill 207  — introduced by Peace River MLA and UCP (United Conservative Party) backbencher Dan Williams — would have meant doctors could not be sued or sanctioned for refusing to provide a service that goes against their moral beliefs. 

Some doctors and patient advocates said the bill would limit access to medical services such as contraception, abortion and assisted dying. . .[Full text]

Committee votes not to send conscience rights bill to house for debate

Edmonton Journal

Lisa Johnson

21 November, 2019

A bill creating special conscience rights for doctors will not move on to debate in the house after doctors and health-care advocates told legislators in a committee meeting Thursday night that it put access to medical care at risk.

A committee voted 8-2 for Bill 207 to not proceed, including 4 UCP MLAs voting against it going to debate.

“No one right is more important than another right. When our rights as human beings come into conflict with each other’s rights, we must always ask ourselves: where is the greater harm?” said Stephanie Shostak of the Trans Equality Society of Alberta at the committee meeting. . . [Full text]

Rally against ‘conscience rights’ Bill 207 gathers hundreds at legislature

CTV News

Alex Antoneshyn

EDMONTON — Criticism swelled on Saturday of a new private member’s bill that would undo a requirement of doctors to refer treatment or service which goes against their beliefs, as protestors rallied at the Alberta Legislature to express their concern.

Sanda Azocar, executive director of Friends of Medicare, called Bill 207, The Conscience Rights Protection Act, an unnecessary piece of proposed legislation that would cause discrimination and harm. . . [Full text]

Calgary-area UCP MLAs say they won’t support conscience rights bill

Calgary Herald

 Zach Laing

A pair of Calgary MLAs say they won’t support a controversial private-member’s bill meant to extend protection for physicians’ conscience rights.

Introduced in the legislature last week by Peace River MLA and UCP backbencher Dan Williams, Bill 207 would prevent patients from submitting a professional complaint or suing a health-care worker for failing to provide a service if medical staff objects to it. The bill would also add “conscientious beliefs” as grounds protected from discrimination in the Alberta Human Rights Act. . . [Full text]

Freedom of conscience in health care: “an interesting moral swamp”?

Responding to Caplan AL. Whose rights come first: Doctors or patients? Medscape, 5 November, 2019

Sean Murphy*

“Whose rights come first?” asks Professor Arthur Caplan in a recent Medscape column. “Doctors’ or patients?”

“You can’t have physicians, pharmacists, nurses, and social workers saying they are not going to do legally allowed medicine or standard-of-care treatment because it violates their rights,” says Professor Caplan. He does suggest that refusal can be allowed if the objector can find a substitute “and it doesn’t disrupt the ER or the organization of healthcare delivery.” . . . Full text