For at least a few more months, the Canadian medical system will continue to be a safe space, free of assisted suicide and euthanasia. But all that is about to change. In order to ensure our hospitals and palliative care centres remain places where patients feel safe and secure, we must respect doctors’ conscience rights, rather than listen to activists who seek to impose their one-size-fits-all policy on the rest of us.
For instance, the palliative care centres in Quebec that refuse to have anything to do with euthanasia, for reasons of medical judgment and ethics, have apparently angered Jean-Pierre Menard, the lawyer who helped write Quebec’s euthanasia law, Bill 52. The act specifically states that palliative care centres are not required to provide euthanasia service — but maybe to Menard, those were just soothing words to get the bill passed. Now Menard says money should be taken away from palliative services that won’t provide euthanasia on their premises. And the minister of health, Gaetan Barrette, has threatened to revoke the hospital privileges of doctors who won’t comply. . . . [Full text]
We want doctors to be able to serve their patients instead of being pushed out of the practice of medicine.
But we need your help. Governments and medical associations will only agree if there is public support.
Visit MoralConvictions.ca to learn more and make sure your voice is heard.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has provided the federal External Panel on Options for a Legislative Response to Carter v. Canada with a five point submission stating the opposition of the Catholic Church to physician assisted suicide and euthanasia, describing the latter practice as “murder.”
The fifth point in the submission was directed to freedom of conscience for health care workers:
On safeguarding freedom of conscience and religion, the Catholic Church believes and teaches:
“Freedom is exercised in relationships between human beings. Every human person, created in the image of God, has the natural right to be recognized as a free and responsible being. All owe to each other this duty of respect. The right to the exercise of freedom, especially in moral and religious matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of the human person. This right must be recognized and protected by civil authority within the limits of the common good and public order. ” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1738
It is the conviction of all the Bishops of Canada, together with the other clergy and members of the consecrated life, united with our Catholic faithful, that our country must at all cost uphold and protect the conscience rights of the men and women who work as caregivers. Requiring a physician to kill a patient is always unacceptable. It is an affront to the conscience and vocation of the health-care provider to require him or her to collaborate in the intentional putting to death of a patient, even by referring the person to a colleague. The respect we owe our physicians in this regard must be extended to all who are engaged in health care and work in our society’s institutions, as well as to the individual institutions themselves. . .
Re: Implementation of Supreme Court of Canada ruling in Carter v. Canada
I.1 The Protection of Conscience Project is a non-profit, non-denominational initiative that advocates for freedom of conscience among health care workers. It does not take a position on the acceptability of morally contested procedures. For this reason, almost half of the questions in the Written Stakeholder Submission Form are outside the scope of the Project’s interests.
I.2 The completed Written Stakeholder Submission Form is in Appendix “A” of this submission. The responses are numbered for reference purposes.
II.1 The responses in the Written Stakeholder Submission Form (Appendix “A”) are supplemented, in some cases, by additional comments in Part III. A protection of conscience policy is suggested in Appendix “B.”
III.1.1 While the Quebec euthanasia kits are to include two courses of medication in case the first does not work,1 insufficient attention has been paid to the fact that euthanasia and assisted suicide drugs do not always cause death as expected.2
III.1.2 Physicians willing to perform euthanasia as well as to assist in suicide should disclose and discuss options available in the event that a lethal injection or prescribed drug does not kill the patient.
III.1.3 Physicians willing to prescribe lethal drugs but unwilling to provide euthanasia by lethal injection should consider what they may be expected to do if a prescribed drug incapacitates but does not kill a patient.
III.1.4 The possibility of this complication provides another reason for insisting that the physician who approves assisted suicide or euthanasia should be the one to administer the lethal medication or to be present when it is ingested. Expecting other health care workers to deal with this complication is likely to increase the likelihood of conflict in what will be an already emotionally charged situation. . . . [Full Text]
College of Physicians and Surgeons demands “effective referral” for euthanasia, assisted suicide
For immediate release
Protection of Conscience Project
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has quietly issued a directive that physicians who, for reasons of conscience or religion, are unwilling to kill patients or help them commit suicide, must help them find someone willing to do so.
The requirement appears in the policy Planning for and Providing Quality End-of-Life Care, approved in September by College Council:
8.3 Conscientious Objection
Physicians who limit their practice on the basis of moral and/or religious grounds must comply with the College’s Professional Obligations and Human Rights policy.
A note explains that limiting practice includes refusals to “provide care” (i.e., kill patients or assist with suicide.)
The College’s policy, Professional Obligations and Human Rights , demands that physicians who are unwilling to provide procedures for reasons of conscience or religion must make “an effective referral to another health-care provider,” which is defined as “a referral made in good faith, to a non-objecting, available, and accessible physician, other health-care professional, or agency.”
As a result of the demand for “effective referral,” Professional Obligations and Human Rights is the subject of a legal challenge filed by the Christian Medical and Dental Society and the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians’ Societies. Among other things, the suit alleges actual bias or a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of the working group that developed the policy.
Professional Obligations and Human Rights was approved by College Council in March, 2015, despite overwhelming opposition to the demand for “effective referral” that was evident in the returns during the public consultation. The College issued a statement with the policy to the effect that it did not apply to euthanasia or assisted suicide. It promised to revisit the issue after Parliament or the provincial legislature enacted laws in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Carter v. Canada.
“It was obvious at the time that this was an ingenuous tactic that they hoped would defuse opposition to the policy, at least among Council members” said Protection of Conscience Project Administrator, Sean Murphy. “This development simply confirms the obvious.”
Letter pleads for support for palliative care physicians
Urgent: we must support our palliative care colleagues
Last week, Dr. Barrette raised the spectre of suspension for physician members of (palliative care) services not wishing to offer euthanasia in hospital. Mr. Ménard, architect of Bill 52, even presses the government to cut subsidies to all palliative care centres in Quebec because they have all decided not to offer euthanasia within their walls, a decision clearly permitted by Bill 52!
Who will bear the brunt of such abuses of power? Terminally ill patients, of course, whose doctor will be suspended or whose palliative care centre will have decreased its services for lack of money. A big mess in perspective.
The population must be aware that these ideologues are about to severely damage, if not ruin, our palliative care network.
We ask all our members to come to the defense of palliative care providers who are currently the target of a true campaign of intimidation that will only increase in the coming months if we do not speak out.
Write massively to the opinion pages of Quebec newspapers and to medical magazines: you will find a list of email addresses to forums and other opinion pages at the bottom of this email.
Speak to politicians and health care administrators in your area.
Show your support for palliative care centres and for your colleagues who give themselves everyday to our weakest and most vulnerable citizens.
Take part in the efforts of the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia to affirm your support for palliative care physicians and end of life patients. This essential and sorely needed service must not disappear.
Catherine Ferrier, MD
President, Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia
- Newspapers / opinions / forums :
Physician Alliance Against Euthanasia
1650 avenue Cedar, bureau D17-173 Montréal, QC H3G 1A4 Canada
New York Post
Thirty years ago, I slid a piece of paper across a table at a secret meeting with the fabled French maritime explorer Jacques Cousteau. In it were dozens of names, all political prisoners in Fidel Castro’s gulags where I spent 22 years of my life. Months later, when Cousteau visited Cuba for research and Castro wanted to scuba dive with him, Cousteau leveraged the release of 80 of those prisoners in exchange. Cousteau used the gift of his fame to change the lives of Cubans for generations to come.
When Pope Francis arrives in the United States this month, he will not barter pictures and backslaps for political prisoners. America is still a nation where its citizens can publicly oppose their political leaders without fear of incarceration. At least for now. But in his unprecedented address to a joint session of Congress, he should protest against the ongoing creation of a new class of prisoners in our society: religious conscientious objectors. [Full Text]
Palliative care specialists’ reluctance to administer life-ending drugs indicates it may be easier to change laws than attitudes.
MONTREAL―Quebec”s euthanasia law is the template and test case for the rest of the country, but problems emerging just months before the terminally ill can start demanding their deaths show that laws are easier to change than attitudes.
Since legislation was adopted in the summer of 2014 that would allow dying patients access to a life-ending drug cocktail under strict conditions, politicians here have celebrated the perception of Quebecers being the vanguards of social change.
But with time running out before Dec. 10 — the date that patients can begin requesting the procedure — hospitals and health-care providers are scrambling to draw up policies and find the staff who will carry out those patients” wishes.
If that wasn”t tough enough, some of those who might be expected to lead the change — palliative care physicians and hospice administrators — have let it be known that they are instead digging trenches for the battle.
“The vocation of a palliative care hospice is to provide care, and that doesn”t include medical aid in dying,” said Élise Rheault, director of Maison Albatros Trois-Rivières. . . [Full Text]
As Canada inches closer to granting doctors the power to end the lives of consenting patients, medical leaders are grappling with a new dilemma: should deaths by lethal injection be classified “death by natural causes” on death certificates?
Quebec’s College of Physicians is considering recommending doctors list the underlying terminal disease as the cause of death in cases of “medical aid in dying” on public death records – and not euthanasia.
The college says it wants to ensure life insurance is paid to families in cases of euthanasia and says the province’s assisted-death law will require any doctor who administers euthanasia to report the death to a special oversight body. That information will be kept confidential or shared with the college and/or the doctor’s hospital.
Euthanasia opponents are denouncing the proposal as an attempt to conceal the truth. It is also creating unease among some doctors who worry misstating death certificates could make it difficult to track how often assisted death is occurring once the practice becomes legal in Canada in February, and whether it is being performed legally. . . [Full Text]