In the first Canadian test of conscience rights for doctors who oppose assisted death, an Ontario court has upheld regulations requiring the objectors to refer their patients to physicians willing to perform the procedure.
Groups representing 4,700 Christian doctors had challenged Ontario’s regulations requiring the referrals, saying that making such a referral was morally equivalent to participating in an assisted death.
But Ontario’s Divisional Court said the referral rule was a reasonable limit on doctors’ freedom of religion because it protects vulnerable patients from harm. And those patients, it said, have a constitutional right to equitable access to publicly funded health care.
Without the policy of “effective referral,” equitable access would be “compromised or sacrificed, in a variety of circumstances, more often than not involving vulnerable members of our society at the time of requesting services,” Justice Herman Wilton-Siegel wrote in the 3-0 ruling on Wednesday. . . [Full text]
Dying with Dignity Canada says Bill 34 doesn’t protect patients’ rights to access assisted dying
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]
There were 803 euthanasia/assisted suicide (EAS) deaths in Canada during the first six months after the procedures were legalized. In the second half of the first year (ending in June, 2017) there were 1,179 — a 46.8% increase, and about 0.9% of all deaths. Health Canada correctly states that the latter figure falls within the range found in other jurisdictions where euthanasia/assisted suicide are legal, but the Canadian EAS death rate in the first year was not reached by Belgium for seven to eight years. The dramatic increase of EAS deaths in the last half of the first year would have had a direct impact on EAS practitioners, and this may be why they ended the first year by sounding the alarm about access to the service. . . .[Full text]
As euthanasia rates increase in the Canadian province of Ontario, pressure is mounting on Catholic Healthcare providers to abandon their blanket opposition to Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD).
Over 630 Ontarians have received MAiD since the procedure was legalised in Canada in 2015, according to data from the provincial coroner, yet none of these cases has taken place in a Catholic healthcare facility.
Lobby groups are now calling for sanctions on Catholic healthcare providers, particularly in light of the public funding these providers receive.
Dying With Dignity Canada CEO Shanaaz Gokool told CBA News that her organisation is considering a legal challenge of Catholic hospitals’ right to conscientiously object to participation in euthanasia.
Gokool says that the Catholic healthcare policy of transferring MAiD patients to secular facilities places an undue burden on patients. “It really depends on how precarious their physical medical condition is,” she said. “And if they are in a precarious state physically, then that can cause them more trauma.”
Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins said that access to MAiD was not currently a problem. “We’re obviously monitoring it very, very closely and currently don’t have those concerns in terms of access,” he told CBA News. “And about half of medical assistance in dying happens at home”.
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TORONTO, Canada – Conscience protections for Catholic hospitals and other organizations could soon come under fire in the Canadian province of Ontario, with one assisted suicide group saying they may challenge this legislation in court.
Deacon Larry Worthen, executive director of the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada, warned that it becomes very difficult to defend objections to assisted suicide once it becomes legal.
“Of course our position would be that there should be no requirement for faith-based institutions to be involved in assisted suicide or euthanasia,” the deacon said. “It’s appropriate that not only the institution, but the individuals should be protected as well.” . . . [Full text]
At least 631 people have chosen a medically assisted death since it became legal, coroner tells CBC News
While more than 630 Ontarians to date have legally ended their lives with the help of a nurse or doctor, none have been able to do so within the walls of a hospital that has historic ties to the Catholic Church.
But advocates for medically assisted dying argue that since these are public-funded health-care centres, they are bound to offer the option — even though Ontario law currently exempts any person or institution that objects.
It’s legislation that Dying With Dignity Canada may challenge in court, according to the group’s CEO. . . [Full text]
Physicians can make more doing paperwork than performing this legal, but emotionally demanding, service. For many, it’s just not worth it.
Back in March, Dr. Tanja Daws took time off from her family practice to travel from B.C.’s Comox Valley to a remote community on Vancouver Island and provide an elderly patient who was dying and suffering with medical assistance in dying (MAID). After the five-and-a-half hour endeavour, which involved some of the most emotionally and technically difficult work Daws has ever done, the physician calculated that, after factoring in her staffing costs and other office expenses, she had lost about $28 for every hour she worked.
“It struck me that I can’t keep doing this,” says Daws. “I can work for nothing, but I can’t work for a loss.” . . . [Full text]
As a faith-based institution, St. Joe’s won’t help its patients die
Despite being allowed by law in Canada, patients at any St. Joseph’s Health Care London facility must go elsewhere if they want a medically assisted death.
In June of 2016, Parliament passed Bill C-14, which lays out the rules that allow doctors and nurse practioners to legally end the lives of patients who are suffering and whose deaths are “reasonably foreseeable.”
Doctors and faith-based intuitions in Ontario that object to doctor-assisted death for religious reasons can’t be forced to perform any procedure that helps a patient die.
As a Catholic intuition, St. Joseph’s won’t allow medically assisted deaths to happen at its facilities, which include the main hospital, the Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care (394 beds) and the Parkwood Institute’s Main Building (14 palliative care beds and 156 long-term care beds). . . [Full Text]
Advocates hail judge’s decision in woman’s assisted death appeal
A 77-year-old woman seeking medical assistance in dying has a “reasonably foreseeable” natural death, a judge declared Monday in an attempt to clear up uncertainty that left her doctor unwilling to perform the end-of-life procedure for fear of a murder charge.
The decision has been hailed by advocates for clarifying a confusing part of the assisted-dying legislation.
Two doctors found that the woman, known under a publication ban as AB, qualified for medical assistance in dying.
But the first doctor later said he was “uncomfortable” performing the procedure because another doctor had disagreed that the woman met the requirement of a reasonably foreseeable natural death, and because of the vagueness of the term “reasonably foreseeable.” . . . [Full text]
Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience wants ‘conscience protection’ in assisted death laws
A Scarborough palliative care physician says she would like Ontario to adopt a direct-access model for physician-assisted suicide, making it widely available to patients while bypassing doctors who object to the procedure.
Dr. Natalia Novosedlik is one of a group of doctors seeking what’s called “conscience protection” in the province’s assisted dying law, meaning physicians who oppose euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide would not have to refer patients to a doctor who does not have such objections, as is the case now. . . [Full text]