Doctors, advocacy groups address proposed law protecting those who object to assisted dying

CBC News

Holly Caruk

Dr. Frank Ewert wants protection from having to help a patient die — but Dying with Dignity Canada doesn’t want that to happen at the cost of patients receiving full access to end-of-life options.

“When I started back a number of years ago and vowed to follow the Hippocratic oath, I meant it. It was very profound to me, it resonated with my core beliefs, that I would always respect life, that I would do nothing to harm a patient,” Ewert told a legislative committee on Monday evening. . . [Full text]

 

Critics call bill aimed to protect health workers unwilling to offer assisted death ‘one-sided’

CBC: The Current

Interviewer/host: Piya Chattopadhyay

SOUNDCLIP

VOICE 1: Bill 34 is being introduced by the Manitoba government to protect conscience rights for health care professionals, so that health care providers would not be required to participate in assisted suicide.

VOICE 2: While I cannot participate in assisted suicide for a couple of reasons. The first is I made a vow as a medical student 40 years ago that I wouldn’t kill patients, okay? And I’m not willing to cross that line.

PC: It has been less than 18 months now since medically assisted dying became legal in Canada. And health care workers are still adapting to that paradigm change. We just heard part of a video produced by the Coalition for Health Care and Conscience. It’s a national umbrella organization of religious groups, and as you heard it is lobbying for Bill 34 a proposed piece of legislation in Manitoba that was drafted to help health care workers with conscientious objections to helping end patients’ lives. Here’s Manitoba’s health minister Kelvin Goertzen. . . [Full episode transcript]

 

 

Proposed legislation to protect health professionals who object to assisted dying called ‘one-sided’

Dying with Dignity Canada says Bill 34 doesn’t protect patients’ rights to access assisted dying

CBC news

Holly Caruk

A bill that would protect Manitoba health professionals’ rights to refuse assisted dying services and protect them from reprisals is being called redundant and one-sided.

Bill 34, which was introduced in May and hasn’t yet reached a second reading in the House, would ensure health professionals cannot be compelled to go against their own religious or ethical beliefs when it comes to providing medical assistance in dying (MAID) services.

It would also ban any professional regulatory body from requiring members to participate in medically assisted deaths, which were made legal by the Supreme Court in 2015. . . [Full text]

 

Participating in medically assisted death not mandatory for health-care workers

New provincial bill similar to federal law

Winnipeg Free Press

Larry Kusch

The provincial government introduced legislation Tuesday that would prevent sanctions against a health professional who refuses to participate in a medically assisted death.

In introducing Bill 34, The Medical Assistance in Dying (Protection for Health Professionals and Others) Act, Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen said it would ensure medical professionals are not disciplined for their beliefs.

“The legislation will protect the rights of those who do not wish to participate in a medically assisted death for conscious, faith or other reasons,” he told the legislative assembly. [Full text]

 

Medically assisted dying team in Manitoba doubles in size

More than 100 people have contacted the MAID team since February 2016; 4 doctors added in response

CBC News

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has more than doubled the number of physicians involved in medically assisted deaths in Manitoba after more patients requested the help than the province initially expected.

More than 100 patients have contacted the Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) team with 24 receiving medically assisted deaths as of Jan. 6, according to statistics provided to CBC Manitoba by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. . . [Full text]

 

Uniform coercive policy urged for all Canadian physicians

Project submission to the Saskatchewan College of Physicians discloses details

News Release

Protection of Conscience Project

The Protection of Conscience Project has charged that a controversial policy proposed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan is unjustified.

The policy, Conscientious Refusal, will require all Saskatchewan physicians who object to a procedure for reasons of conscience to facilitate the procedure by referring patients to a colleague who will provide it, even if it is homicide or suicide.

The Project noted that the burden of proof was on the policy’s supporters to prove that the policy is justified and that no less oppressive alternatives are available.  “They failed to do so,” states the submission. “The policy should be withdrawn.”

Conscientious Refusal fails to recognize that the practice of medicine is a moral enterprise, that morality is a human enterprise, and that physicians, no less than patients, are moral agents” said the Project, describing the policy as “profoundly disrespectful of the moral agency of physicians.”

Using documents provided by the College, the Project’s submission traces the origin of the policy to a meeting in 2013. The meeting was apparently convened by the Conscience Research Group (CRG), activist academics whose goal is to compel physicians unwilling to provide morally contested procedures like abortion or euthanasia to refer patients to someone willing to do so. They presented a coercive model policy that had been drafted to achieve that goal.

According to a CPSS memo, College attendees included Saskatchewan Associate Registrar Bryan Salte, Dr. Gus Grant, Registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia, Andréa Foti of the Policy Department of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and a representative of the Collège des Médecins du Québec. They agreed upon a text virtually identical to the CRG model.

In May, 2014, Bryan Salte proposed the policy to Registrars of the Colleges of British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario, who, he reported, agreed to review it and consider implementing it. He later urged all of the Registrars of Colleges of Physicians in Canada to adopt the coercive policy or one very like it, noting that “physician assisted suicide, in particular” would be present a challenge for administrators.

“Any College that is an outlier, either because it has adopted a different position than other Colleges, or because it has not developed a policy, will potentially be placed in a difficult position,” he warned.

The CPSS memo discloses that, unbeknownst to physicians, officials in several provinces have been making plans behind closed doors to suppress freedom of conscience in the medical profession.

“One of the disturbing aspects of the story,” notes the submission, “is what appears to be a pattern of concealment, selective disclosure, and false or misleading statements that all serve the purpose of supporting the policy.”

The Project’s most recent submission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario identifies a similarly troubling pattern, describing briefing materials supplied to College Council in support of its controversial policy as “not only seriously deficient, but erroneous and seriously misleading.”

Project Submission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan (2015)

Project Submission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (2015)