Medically assisted dying: What happens when religious and individual rights conflict?

Lawyer Allison Fenske explains how Canadian law works, and how the courts strive to balance competing rights

CBC News

A Winnipeg man’s struggle to be assessed for a medically assisted death while he lives at a faith-based hospital has some questioning how we balance personal and religious rights in Canada.

“I want to die and nobody should come in the way of my deciding how to go about it,” Cheppudira Gopalkrishna, 88, said on Saturday.

However, because Gopalkrishna lives at a faith-based hospital that objects to medical assistance in dying, he has struggled to be assessed by Manitoba’s MAID team under provincial guidelines regulating such deaths. . . [Full text]

 

Winnipeg man receives assisted-death assessment after concerns faith-based hospital caused delay

‘I want to die and nobody should come in the way of my deciding how to go about it.’

CBC News

An 88-year-old Winnipeg man has received his required assessment for medically assisted death after he says it was delayed by the faith-based hospital where he now lives.

On Friday, Cheppudira Gopalkrishna was able to do an assessment with the province’s Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) services.

“I want to die and nobody should come in the way of my deciding how to go about it,” Gopalkrishna said on Saturday evening.

The former teacher has been at the Misericordia Health Centre for several months after his health declined significantly. He has a form of Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS, and has lost almost all of his mobility.

Gopalkrishna started looking into the possibility of a medically assisted death in May but the hospital and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s timelines differ about what happened next. . . [Full text]

 

Canada’s assisted suicide law spurs a ‘campaign for conscience’

Inquirer.net

Isabella Buenaobra

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — A significant health care-related federal legislation was enacted by the Canadian Parliament on June 17, 2016: The Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide law creates a regulatory framework for medical assistance in dying in Canada.

With the legislation, Canada has joined The Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and Luxembourg. which have enacted rules on doctor-assisted suicide. . .

Bill 34

In response to the passage of the (MAiD) Act, the Coalition for HealthCare and Conscience, a Canadian Christian-based organization, was organized to support the “Call for Conscience” Campaign. The campaign supports Bill 34—the Medical Assistance in Dying (Protection for Health Professionals & Others) Act, currently being considered by the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba. . . [Full text]

 

Waiting to die: Winnipeg man says faith-based hospital delayed access to assisted death

Timeline of events provided to CBC suggests Misericordia Health Centre delayed transfer of medical records

CBC News

Holly Caruk, Bruce Hoye

An 88-year-old Winnipeg man wants to end his life after being confined to a bed for several months with no chance of recovering and says the faith-based hospital where he now lives is delaying that request.

Cheppudira Gopalkrishna says the Misericordia Health Centre did not help him with his initial request to access the province’s Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) services, and has since delayed the process further by taking too long to transfer his medical records and delaying an in-person assessment by the MAID team.

“I wouldn’t say [my request was ignored, but it wasn’t placed in the highest priority,” he said from his hospital bed.

The former school teacher has been at the Misericordia for several months, after his health declined significantly over the last year and a half. Gopalkrishna says he’s been told by doctors he has a form of Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS, and has lost almost all of his mobility.

Misericordia describes itself on its website as being affiliated with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Winnipeg. . . .[Full text]

 

Health minister says delayed access to medical assistance in dying ‘should not happen’

Cheppudira Gopalkrishna, 88, says Misericordia hasn’t helped him seek out medically-assisted death

CBC News

Manitoba’s Health Minister says he doesn’t know all the details of a terminally ill Winnipeg man’s search for medical assistance in dying, but he’s troubled by his first impression of the case.

Cheppudira Gopalkrishna, 88, told CBC News he has no chance of recovering from the illness that has confined him to bed for months, and the Misericordia Health Centre hasn’t helped him access the province’s medical assistance in dying (MAID) services.

However, the faith-based hospital — which is part of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority — and the health authority’s MAID team offer differing accounts of what transpired and the timeline of Gopalkrishna’s request. . . . [Full text]

 

Catholic leaders attack ‘erosion of respect’ for doctors who oppose abortion

Christian Today

Harry Farley

Catholic heads in the UK are issuing a robust defence of the Church’s abortion teaching after criticism of bishops’ stance from within the Catholic hierarchy.

Describing having a termination as a ‘grave decision’ the two leaders of the Catholic Church in England, Wales and Scotland attack the ‘contradiction’ in abortion laws for disabled babies and praised politicians who try to change the law.

They also lambast an ‘erosion of respect’ for those who oppose abortion, saying doctors and nurses ‘face increasing difficulty in being able to combine their dedicated professional work with their personal conviction’.

Pointing to recent cases where doctors and pharmacists feel they cannot refuse to offer abortion services, the senior bishops write: ‘So much talent is being lost to important professional areas. Personal conscience is inviolable and no-one should be forced to act against their properly formed conscience in these matters. This is something which needs greater debate in our society.’ . . . [Full Text]

 

Dáil committee not open-minded on Eighth Amendment, says bishop

Bishop Kevin Doran says health workers ‘have no recourse to conscientious objection’

Irish Times

Patsy McGarry

The Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment “would appear to have long since made up its mind” on repealing the constitutional ban on abortion, Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran has said.

The chairman of the Catholic bishops’ consultative group on bioethics empathised with people who did not wish to co-operate with its proceedings. . .

Bishop Doran was speaking to The Irish Times at a conference, Abortion, Disability, and the Law, in Athlone on Friday. . .

Earlier Bishop Doran told the conference that the manner in which conscientious objection was being interpreted “in the so-called Protection of Life in Pregnancy Act gives rise to real concern”.

Doctors and nurses “are allowed under the Act to opt out of providing or participating in abortion, provided they refer the patient to someone else who will perform the procedure”, he said. “In other words, they are still required to participate in what they believe to be fundamentally immoral. Healthcare administrators have no recourse to conscientious objection.” [Full text]

 

Contraceptive Coverage and the Balance Between Conscience and Access

Ronit Y. Stahl,PhD; Holly Fernandez Lynch, JD, MBE

When the Obama administration included contraception in the essential benefits package to be covered by employer-sponsored health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, it sought to preserve access for women while addressing the concerns of employers with religious objections. Although the accommodations and exemptions were not enough for some employers, balance was the ultimate goal. This also was reflected in Zubik v Burwell, the Supreme Court’s most recent decision on the matter; on May 16, 2016, the justices remanded the litigants to the lower court so they could be afforded the opportunity to reach a compromise between religious exercise and seamless contraceptive coverage. No further compromise was forthcoming.

Now the Trump administration has rejected balance as a worthwhile goal.1 Its new contraceptive coverage rules, released on October 6, 2017, prioritize conscientious objection over access.2,3 The rules take effect immediately, and new legal challenges, this time on behalf of patients rather than objecting employers, have already begun.4 The new rules preserve the default requirement that employers must include free access to contraceptives as part of their insurance plans. However, the rules now exempt employers with religious or moral objections to contraceptives, without requiring any alternative approaches to ensure that beneficiaries can obtain contraceptives at no cost.2,3
[Full Text]


Stahl RY, Lynch HF. Contraceptive Coverage and the Balance Between Conscience and Access. JAMA. Published online October 19, 2017. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.17086

Trump gives relief to religious Obamacare objectors

Deseret News

Hannah C. Smith

Last Friday, the Trump administration revised rules implementing the Affordable Care Act in a way that expands protections for religious and moral objectors to the contraception mandate — achieving the common-sense balance that religious organizations have sought for the past six years. These revisions allow religious nonprofits — like the Little Sisters of the Poor — to avoid millions of dollars in fines because their employee health insurance plans exclude coverage for contraception, a practice contrary to Catholic doctrine on respecting human life.

Judging by some media hyperbole, however, you would think that the federal government had just abolished the ACA’s birth control mandate altogether. Headlines that claim the federal government’s move “reverses” or “scraps” or “ends” the mandate are all wrong.. . .The vast majority of women in America will continue to receive free birth control, and religious objectors will not be forced into providing services that violate their conscience. . . [Full text]