Court decision on assisted suicide referrals opens door for other challenges

The Catholic Register

Michael Swan

While doctors who lost their right to practise medicine according to their conscience contemplate a legal appeal, a prominent pro-euthanasia organization suspects faith-based hospitals, nursing homes and hospices may be next to face demands to accommodate euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Dying With Dignity, Canada believes an Ontario Divisional Court decision that compels doctors to refer for euthanasia and assisted suicide may become a springboard to court challenges aimed at the conscience rights of institutions which refuse to assist in the death of patients.

“It’s really interesting. I think that the question is going to be debated in the coming days and weeks, if not months, by lawyers,” Dying with Dignity CEO Shanaaz Gokool told The Catholic Register.

In a unanimous Jan. 31 decision, a panel of three judges agreed that the religion rights of doctors under the Charter are violated by a policy which demands a formal referral for assisted suicide and other procedures. But the judges nonetheless ruled against the doctors because, they said, there is a greater public interest in ensuring “equitable access to such medical services as are legally available.” . . . [Full Text]

Nursing homes in Swiss canton to be forced to accept assisted suicide

A plan put forward by the parliament of the Swiss canton of Vaud to oblige nursing homes to accept assisted suicide has been approved by the electorate.  The new law is supported by associations of Vaud nursing homes and physicians.  It specifies that the applicant must be suffering from an incurable illness or injury and be of sound mind.  The voters rejected an alternative proposal that would have given nursing home residents an unconditional right to assisted suicide. []  It does not appear that a rejection of both positions in favour of a ban on assisted suicide was considered, nor does it appear that there was a discussion of the possibility of conscientious objection.