Canadian hospice struggles against state demand to allow euthanasia

Hospice begs permission to refuse $750,000 in state funding

Euthanasia and assisted suicide available in state hospital next door

News Release

Delta Hospice Society

Vancouver area hospice is asking the government to reconsider their proposal to give up $750,000 a year in funding so that it not be required to violate its mandate of care and compassion for patients by providing Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) at its facility.

The health authority’s demand is unnecessary, the hospice contends, noting that the MAiD option is widely available at many other facilities, including one next door.

By forfeiting the government funding, the hospice would be under the 50% threshold set by the government and therefore exempt from providing MAiD.

Angelina Ireland, President of the Delta Hospice Society, said that the Society’s Charter specifically mandates it to provide compassionate care and support for persons in the last stages of living, so that they may live as fully and comfortably as possible.

“Helping and supporting patients to live fully and comfortably in their last days and giving support to them and their families is what our patients and families come to us for and expect and it is certainly what our staff are dedicated to providing. Taking steps to end a patient’s life is not providing care and support so that ‘they may live fully.’”

Fraser Health Authority ordered the Delta Hospice Society late last year to provide Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) claiming that failure to do so would be a breach of the Society’s agreement with the authority.

Ireland said in order to comply with the Authority’s instruction it would have to violate its legal commitments under the province’s Societies’ Act which requires them to follow their Charter. Further, DHS is not in breach of the Agreement. There is nothing in the Agreement which requires DHS to provide MAiD or allow it to be provided on its premises. The FHA is attempting to amend the Agreement by making a unilateral decision to impose an obligation, which in itself would be a contravention of the Agreement. The Fraser Health Authority’s new directive puts the Hospice Society in a difficult position of either honouring their Charter and legal obligations or acceding to what she called “an agenda-driven demand which ignores ourprimary function and pays no heed to the needs or wants of those patients and families we are caring for.”

The Delta Hospice Society has tried to work with the health authority, explaining the dilemma the order places upon them, outlining their function to assist patients live fully in their final days before natural death, and offering options to help settle the dispute but the Fraser Health Authority has refused to budge.

On January 15, 2020, Delta Hospice Society wrote the Fraser Health Authority to ask that they reconsider the proposal to give up the $750,000 a year in funding so that they may benefit from the exemption set out in a Ministry of Health policy.

Ireland said that giving up the funding would cause the Society to focus exclusively on their Hospice operations. The other services the Society provides to the community would be put on the back burner until alternative funding partnerships can be established. The Society is committed to continuing to provide the quality care it has provided since its founding in 1991, and protecting the Society’s mandate and organizational integrity.

Ireland noted further that there are many locations where MAiD is already available to those wishing to avail themselves of that option, including a facility next door.

“Nobody wanting such a service would be prevented access. The issue is not accessibility. It seems to be a purely agenda-driven demand that runs rough shod over both Delta Hospice Society’s desire to live up to its legal requirements under our Charter, as well as ignoring the reality that we are dealing with patients and families in a very vulnerable and delicate position.”

“Our goal,” she added, “is to fulfill our mission. And that is to help patients and their loved ones live quietly, comfortably, and as fully as possible in their final days of life.”

She reiterated the hospice’s desire to negotiate an equitable arrangement with the Fraser Health Authority to maintain Delta Hospice’s role of serving its patients well.

Contact: Angelina Ireland 778-512-8088; irelandangelina@gmail.com

Controversial conscience rights bill will die on order paper

Second session of 30th legislature starts on Feb. 25

CBC News

Michelle Bellefontaine

A controversial private member’s bill on conscience rights for medical providers will be dropped now that the government intends to prorogue the first session of the 30th legislature. 

Government House Leader Jason Nixon announced on Wednesday that the second session will start Feb. 25 with a speech from the throne. . . [Full text]

Indiana assisted suicide bill fails to protect objecting practitioners

Assisted suicide evolves from “assistance” to  “medical care”

Affirmation has serious consequences for objecting  Indiana physicians

Sean Murphy*

On 7 January, 2020, Representative Matt Pierce introduced HB1020: End of life options in the Indiana General Assembly. HB1020 is the fourth assisted suicide bill introduced by Pierce since 2017; three previous bills died in committee without hearings. Parts of HB1020 relevant to protection of conscience are reproduced on the Project website.

Overview

The bill permits physician assisted suicide for Indiana residents 18 years of age and older who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness likely to cause death within six months. [Full text]

New Hampshire assisted suicide bill introduced

Protection of conscience provision biased against objectors

Sean Murphy*

New Hampshire House Bill 1659 would legalize assisted suicide. Parts of the bill relevant to protection of conscience are reproduced on the Project website.

The bill permits physician assisted suicide for New Hampshire residents 18 years of age and older who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness likely to cause death within six months. Candidates who are capable of making and  communicating health care decisions must apply in writing for a lethal prescription (137-M:3); the application must be witnessed by two independent witnesses (137-M:4).  The candidate must apply personally; substitute medical decision makers cannot apply on behalf of a patient (137-M:3.III).

The bill imposes a number of obligations on physicians primarily responsible for treating a patient’s terminal illness (137-M:5) and upon physicians consulted by them about the illness (137-M:6).  These would be unacceptable to physicians who refuse to participate in assisted suicide for reasons of conscience.

Section 137-M:14 (Immunities) is the provision that is intended to protect objecting health care providers, which includes individuals and health care facilities.  The protection offered is biased in favour of those willing to participate in assisted suicide and insufficient to protect those unwilling to do so.  Specifically:

  • 139-M:14.I limits protection against civil, criminal and professional liability to persons willing to participate in assisted suicide; no protection is provided for those who refuse. It also prevents objecting institutional health care providers from taking action against employees who participate in assisted suicide on their premises.
  • 139-M:14.II protects both participants and non-participants equally, but also prevents objecting institutional health care providers from taking action against individuals who ignore prohibitions against assisted suicide on their premises.
  • 139-M14.III protects those providing assisted suicide drugs against negligence complaints, but does not similarly protect those who refuse to provide assisted suicide drugs.
  • 139-M14.IV declares that no health care provider is under a duty to participate in assisted suicide.  However, the provision is ambiguous because it is inconsistent with the lack of protection noted in 139-M4.I and III. 

Over 12,000 calls made to HSE helpline about unplanned pregnancies in first year of abortion services in Ireland

The Irish Sun

Julieann Corr

THERE were 12,080 calls made to the HSE helpline about unplanned pregnancies between January and the end of November 2019, estimate figures have revealed.

Data also shows that the MyOptions website was accessed over 331,000 times this year – in the first year of abortion services in Ireland.

Official figures regarding the operation of the service is set to be published during 2020. . .[Full text]