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]

 

 

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]

 

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]

 

2 more resignations follow St. Boniface Hospital decision on assisted death

‘It would have been hypocritical for me to continue sitting’ on St. Boniface subcommitte, says Dr. Ken Hahlweg

CBC News

Kelly Malone

Two more resignation letters have been submitted after a controversial revote banned medically assisted dying at Winnipeg’s St. Boniface Hospital.

On May 29, the St. Boniface Hospital board of directors, which provides governance for the hospital, narrowly approved a new policy that would allow medical assistance in dying, or MAID, at the faith-based hospital under “rare circumstances.”

The Catholic Health Corp. of Manitoba, which owns St. Boniface Hospital’s facilities and appoints its board, held a special board meeting the next day and added 10 new members, all of whom were part of the corporation, to the hospital’s board of directors, and then asked for a revote on June 12.

That vote banned medically assisted death at the hospital. . . [Full text]

 

Critics decry St. Boniface Hospital for banning medical-assisted deaths

‘They’re not taking into account people’s end-of-life comfort,’ says ethics professor Arthur Schafer

CBC News
St. Boniface General Hospital’s decision to forbid medical-assisted deaths is drawing condemnation from end-of-life care advocates and an expert on medical ethics.

Arthur Schafer, a founder of the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics, described the recent board decision to ban medical-assisted deaths as “fundamentally wrong.” . . . [Full text]

 

St. Boniface Hospital to allow assisted-dying assessments but not assisted dying

Hospital board voted to allow assisted dying in ‘rare circumstances,’ overturned decision 2 weeks later

CBC News

Aidan Geary, Tessa Vandherhart

While confirming that it won’t allow medical assistance in dying on site, St. Boniface Hospital has lifted its policy requiring patients to leave the facility to be assessed for the service.

Under its old rules, patients at St. Boniface Hospital hoping to access medical assistance in dying had to be transferred off site for the assessments, which are required by Manitoba law and conducted by a medical team from the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

One patient died as a result of one such transfer, according to a St. Boniface Hospital internal memo dated March 1 that was provided to CBC News. . . [Full text]

 

Protecting The Right to Conscientious Objection

Reproduced with permission

Kelvin Goertzen, MLA

In 2015 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Canadians could access a medical assisted death with the help of a physician. As part of that decision, the Supreme Court tasked Parliament with developing the legislative framework by which the medical assisted death (otherwise known as MAID) could happen in Canada.

The decision has resulted in a number of different concerns regarding the right to conscientious objection for medical professionals and others. As Minister of Health for Manitoba over the past year, I have heard from many in the healthcare profession who are concerned that they may in the future be required to participate in a MAID procedure as a requirement of their occupation.

While the provincial governments have been mandated by the Supreme Court decision to ensure there is access to MAID, they also have a responsibility to ensure that those who are unable to participate in a medically assisted death due to their personal beliefs or values have protection.

That is why during this past session of the Manitoba Legislature, I introduced Bill 34 (currently in second reading) which is about providing protection to medical professionals and others who may not want to participate, for whatever reason, in a medical assisted death. There was no robust legislation in Manitoba or anywhere else that protected medical professionals so that they would not be required to act in a medical assisted death. Not just doctors, but nurses and other health professionals have asked for legislative means to ensure that this protection exists, not just for today but for the future as well.

The legislation would ensure that now and into the future, an individual could refuse to participate in a medically assisted death without any disciplinary or employment repercussions. It also prohibits a professional regulatory body from requiring its members to participate in a medically assisted death.

In Manitoba we have been a leader in ensuring that a balance is struck between meeting the legal responsibilities flowing from the Supreme Court of Canada and Parliament’s subsequent action and ensuring that medical professionals are able to also act in a way that is in keeping with their own personal convictions and the purpose for which they entered the medical field. The work of the individual professional colleges in Manitoba has been helpful to date in working to protect the rights of medical professionals and the legislation which I have introduced will help to support that work.

I look forward to this legislation being further considered in the fall session of the Manitoba Legislature and to ensuring that medical professionals have their conscientious rights protected.