Catholic health workers face crisis of conscience

The Catholic Register

Michael Swan

TORONTO – Dr. Luigi Castagna doesn’t think of practicing medicine as a protest movement. But a stalemate over conscience rights for doctors who object to physician-assisted dying may change that.

“We may have to resort to civil disobedience,” Castagna told The Catholic Register.

Castagna is a member and former president of the St. Joseph Moscati Toronto Catholic Doctors’ Guild. He doesn’t think helping a patient commit suicide is good medicine and he doesn’t think he should refer suicidal patients to doctors who believe it their duty to accommodate requests for death.

“You do, on occasion, encounter suicidal patients,” said Castagna. “That’s how we saw them before the (Supreme Court) decision. They were suicidal. It’s a psychological condition and you find out the reason. You do what you do with any patient. You do a history, a physical examination. You establish a diagnosis and you treat them. Successful treatment means that they now wish to live again.”

Given the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario policy that forces doctors to provide an “effective referral” for any recognized, legal medical procedure or treatment, even in those cases where the doctor objects on moral or religious grounds, there is great fear among members of the Doctors’ Guild they will be forced to refer for assisted suicide. . . [Full text]

Groups worry new assisted-dying legislation doesn’t protect physicians’ consciences

Ottawa Citizen

Joanne Laucius

Assisted dying legislation tabled Thursday does not compel health care providers to help patients die, but some are worried the proposed bill won’t legally protect physicians who oppose the practice.

Medical professionals who provide assisted death would no longer have to fear criminal prosecution under the proposed legislation. On the other side, those who object to participating will not be forced to offer the service.

“Under this bill, no health care provider will be required to provide medical assistance in dying,” Health Minister Jane Philpott told reporters Thursday.

But some argue these assurances won’t offer legal protection to health care workers whose consciences won’t allow them to participate in assisted death. . . [Full text]


Ottawa’s Catholic palliative care hospital under pressure as it refuses to do euthanasia

LifeSite News

Lianne Laurence

OTTAWA, March 2, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Ottawa’s largest palliative care hospital, the Catholic Bruyère Continuing Care Centre, says it will neither euthanize nor assist its patients to commit suicide when those options become legally available June 6.

Bruyère’s vice-president of public affairs and planning, Amy Porteous, told the Ottawa Citizen that the hospital is “waiting for clarification” on the protocol for transferring patients who request euthanasia or assisted suicide after that date.

Bruyère is among 21 Catholic health care institutions administered by the Catholic Health Sponsors of Ontario.

Other institutions under CHSO’s oversight include Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital and Providence Centre, the Pembroke Regional Hospital, Penetanguishene’s Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care, and Sudbury’s St. Joseph’s Continuing Care Centre. . . [Full text]