The Globe and Mail
Dr. Jillian Demontigny keeps a rainbow bracelet wrapped around the stethoscope that she drapes across her neck. It’s her signal to any LGBTQ patient who arrives at her clinic: you are welcome here.
Dr. Demontigny is one of 13 physicians working at the Taber Clinic, a family medicine clinic in a southern Alberta town of 8,500 people. Over her 14 years in Taber, she has expanded her practice to offer extra supports for patients looking for the kind of health care that can be hard to access in this rural, conservative region, where anti-abortion billboards are posted along the highway. . . [Full text]
Second session of 30th legislature starts on Feb. 25
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]
Assisted suicide evolves from “assistance” to “medical care”
Affirmation has serious consequences for objecting Indiana physicians
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.
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]
Protection of conscience provision biased against objectors
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.
Under the revisions, conscientious objectors could refuse to provide treatments to which they objected on religious grounds, as long as the refusal is a blanket ban.
Speaking at a press conference, Attorney-General Christian Porter said the revised bill means it would be acceptable for a GP to, for example, refuse to ‘engage in hormone therapies’ for transgender patients broadly, but not for an individual patient only.
The revisions are intended to rule out discrimination, Mr Porter said. . . [Full text]