Fewer than half of assisted-death requests in Nova Scotia have been granted

Provincial stats on medical assistance in dying include applications filed between June 2016 and March 2017

CBC News

Frances Willick

Sixty-seven Nova Scotians have requested medical assistance to die since Canada’s assisted dying legislation was passed last June.

But of those 67 applicants, only 31 actually received medical help to die.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority, which oversees assisted dying in the province, said there are several reasons why the remaining applicants may have not received the help they requested. . . .[Full text]

 

Scarborough health practitioners stand against assisted suicide

Doctors seek protection from policy requiring them to make referral

Scarborough Mirror

Dominik Kurek

A number of local healthcare practitioners fear their right to choose whether or not they participate in providing assisted suicide to patients is being taken away from them.

Assisted suicide became legal in Canada in June 2016.

The Canadian law to allow medical assistance in dying (MAID) followed a Supreme Court of Canada ruling that struck down the law forbidding physician assisted dying, saying the old law violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The federal law, however, makes no indication that healthcare professionals would have to participate in MAID.

But, a College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario policy requires practitioners who conscientiously object to MAID to provide an effective referral to a non-objecting, available and accessible physician, nurse practitioner or agency. . . [Full text]

 

The mentally ill must be part of the assisted-dying debate

The Globe and Mail

André Picard

“I am my own saviour. Always have been, always will be.”

Those are the last words Adam Maier-Clayton, 27, posted on his Facebook page before taking his own life on Thursday. His death was not a surprise. Mr. Maier-Clayton had been saying for months that he wanted to end his life, and pleaded publicly for an assisted death.

But existing legislation, Bill C-14, requires that death be “reasonably foreseeable,” so he was deemed ineligible. He took matters into his own hands.

Mr. Maier-Clayton’s advocacy – up to and including his suicide – have forced us once again to ask the question: Should people with mental illness be denied assisted death? (A similar question needs to be asked about those with dementia.) . . . [Full text]

 

Doctors will have right to refuse assisted death requests under planned reforms

The Age

Farrah Tomazin

Doctors will have the right to refuse to help terminally ill patients who wish to die provided they don’t obstruct people from seeking support elsewhere, under assisted dying laws to be drafted by the Andrews government.

In a high-level report to be considered by cabinet, an expert panel is set to recommend allowing doctors to hold a “conscientious objection” to physician-assisted death – similar to the provisions that allow them to refuse abortions in Victoria.

But medical clinicians who are willing to help patients end their life may be required to have extra training, and anyone who tries to pressure someone to die could face criminal sanctions in a bid to ensure there are strict safeguards against exploitation. . . [Full text]

Ontario Liberals give doctors no choice but to refer patients for assisted death

Lifesite News

Lianne Laurence

TORONTO, April 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — A Liberal-dominated committee has refused to add conscience rights protection to Ontario’s bill regulating euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The finance and economic affairs committee voted down Progressive Conservative health critic Jeff Yurek’s proposed conscience rights amendments to Bill 84 on Tuesday.

The Liberal move leaves conscientiously objecting doctors with no protection against a College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario’s policy forcing them to give patients requesting euthanasia an “effective referral” — that is, to a willing and accessible colleague for the purposes of accomplishing the act. . . [Full text]

 

CLF, EFC and ACBO Form Coalition in Physicians’ Conscience Case

News Release

For immediate release

Christian Legal Fellowship, Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario

The Christian Legal Fellowship (CLF), The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC), and the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario (ACBO) have filed a joint factum with the Ontario Divisional Court in the physicians’ conscience case: Christian Medical and Dental Society (CMDS) v. College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO).

The CPSO has adopted (1) a Human Rights Policy mandating effective referrals and obligatory emergency care even if it conflicts with conscience or religious beliefs; and (2) a Medical Assistance in Dying Policy that specifically requires effective referrals for euthanasia and assisted suicide. The “effective referral” requirement imposed by the CPSO mandates referral for all procedures and pharmaceuticals including euthanasia, assisted suicide and abortion, despite any conscientious or religious objection the physician may have.

The joint interveners support the CMDS in its position that, among other things, these policies violate religious freedom, freedom of conscience and equality, are not in the public interest, limit patient choice and undermine the principle of state neutrality. Derek Ross, CLF’s Executive Director & General Counsel (co-counsel to the joint interveners along with CLF Legal Counsel Deina Warren), explains:

Forcing physicians to participate in the purposeful and premature ending of a patient’s life contrary to their convictions is truly unconscionable. The Supreme Court’s decision in Carter allows room for conscientious objectors in the practice of medicine, and their freedoms must be robustly protected. In the same way, patients should be free to seek health care from professionals whose ethical framework reflects their own convictions, including those related to the value of human life. It is difficult to comprehend how it could possibly be in the ‘public interest’ to expect patients to receive health care from professionals who have been required by their regulatory body to abandon their core ethical convictions.

The interveners’ joint factum points to a comprehensive definition of religious freedom that informs the very understanding of human life, its beginning and end, the inherent value and dignity of each person and the moral considerations involved in ending another’s life. Religion cannot be compartmentalized or restricted to the performance of sacred rituals but includes outward expression and impacts all aspects of a believer’s life. Bishop Ronald Fabbro, President of the ACBO and Bishop of London, explains:

For Christians, adherence to Biblical teaching is not an optional exercise but a necessary, inescapable requirement of their faith. If one holds sincere religious beliefs which inform one’s view about human nature, morality and eternity, one is not free to temporarily disregard or suspend those beliefs in order to act contrary to them. The state cannot demand physicians or other healthcare professionals set aside the moral framework that guides their conduct, just as it cannot coerce believers to renounce their faith.

The joint submission explains that physicians’ Charter rights to religious belief, conscience and equality are not erased simply because they practice in a regulated profession. These rights exist to protect physicians against the power of the state, in this case the CPSO. Protecting physicians’ Charter rights allows patients to choose medical professionals whose ethical framework aligns with their own, and enhances patients’ interests by protecting physicians’ professional judgment, which is an inseparable combination of ethical and clinical assessments.

The submission also explains that there is no competing patient Charter right to health care, let alone euthanasia or assisted suicide. Decriminalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide does not create a “right to euthanasia or assisted suicide”. Even if such a right existed, there is nothing to demonstrate that protecting conscience inhibits access.

The policies violate physicians’ equality rights and violate the principle of state neutrality, which means welcoming and accepting religious individuals in the public sphere. The Charter ought to protect diversity, not enforce conformity. Bruce Clemenger, EFC President explains:

Physicians, like all Canadians, ought not to be excluded from the public sphere or their vocation because of their religious beliefs and practices. The state in a religiously diverse and secular society has the obligation to welcome and accept religious individuals in the public sphere. It must respect religious differences, not seek to extinguish them. Requiring individuals to renounce, deny or hide their beliefs is not state neutrality, but coerced conformity. This is contrary to the principles we value in a free and democratic society.

The CLF-EFC-ACBO factum can be read in full here.

The joint interveners will present oral arguments before the court during the three-day hearing, which is scheduled for June 13-15, 2017.

-30-

For additional information or an interview, please contact:

Rick Hiemstra, Director of Media Relations
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
MediaRelations@theEFC.ca
613-233-9868 x332

Ruth A.M. Ross, Special Advisor
Christian Legal Fellowship
ramross@christianlegalfellowship.org
519-208-9200

Neil MacCarthy
Director, Public Relations & Communications
Archdiocese of Toronto
neilm@archtoronto.org
416-934-3400 x552

Court Rules Nurse Fired for Refusing to Assist Abortions Must Do Abortions to Keep Her Job

Lifenews

Steve Ertelt

Ellinor Grimmark is a nurse in Sweden who filed a claim that the hospital where she worked discriminated against her because she refused to participate in abortions.

Newly-graduated, Grimmark was fired from her position because she refused to assist abortions. Even though there was a shortage of midwives at the time she was fired and even though she is willing to take on double shifts, she has been denied a job ever since. One employer had first agreed to hire her in spite of the “complication”, but withdrew the offer when her story began to spread in media. . . But a Swedish court ruled today that Grimmark has no choice but to participate in abortions if she wants to keep her job. . . [Full text]

 

Conscience rights protection amendments voted down

Catholic Register

Michael Swan

The majority Liberal government at Queen’s Park has crushed an opposition attempt to incorporate conscience protections for doctors in its legislation on assisted suicide.

The government majority on the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs voted down two versions of a Progressive Conservative amendment to Bill-84 that would have removed the threat of license suspensions and other disciplinary actions against doctors who refuse to make an “effective referral” for medical assistance in dying (MAID).

New Democratic Party representatives on the committee abstained on the issue. . . [Full text]

 

Amendments to protect conscience rights on the table

The Catholic Register

Michael Swan

Amendments to a government bill have been forward that would protect Ontario’s doctors and nurses who, for reasons of conscience, cannot refer for medical assistance in dying (MAID).

Conscience rights for doctors are coming up for a vote at Queen’s Park as amendments to Bill-84 which smooths the way for voluntary euthanasia makes its way through committee towards its final reading in the legislature.

Progressive Conservative health critic Jeff Yurek has put forward two versions of an amendment that would protect doctors and nurses who will not refer for MAID. The Yurek amendments protect medical professionals both from civil liability and from disciplinary action by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. . . [Full text]

 

Ontario’s euthanasia bill – no physician conscience rights

Toronto Sun

Dr. Mark D’Souza

Bill 84 is the Ontario government’s proposed legislation designed to implement Ottawa’s law on medically assisted dying.

It ignores the conscience rights of doctors like myself, who oppose euthanasia on ethical grounds and, in its current form, will decrease public access to palliative care.

In 2015, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario changed its human rights policy to say doctors who oppose euthanasia must refer their patients who want to be considered for it to another doctor to carry out.

Doctors like myself argue this provision — known as effective referral — involves us in the euthanasia process against our will. . . [Full text]