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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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]
In a strict party lines vote, a bill that would have shielded doctors and other health care providers from punishment for refusing to refer their patients on for assisted suicide was voted down at Queen’s Park on May 18.
In a recorded vote, 39 Liberals and New Democrats voted against Bill 129, Jeff Yurek’s private members’ bill aimed at protecting the conscience rights of doctors and other health care professionals. All 23 Progressive Conservatives backed their health critic’s bill.
Focus now shifts to the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada’s court challenge to the forced referral policy of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. Three days of oral arguments are scheduled for Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Divisional Court June 13-15. . . [Full text]
Doctors seek protection from policy requiring them to make referral
A number of local healthcare practitioners fear their right to choose whether or not they participate in providing assisted suicide to patients is being taken away from them.
Assisted suicide became legal in Canada in June 2016.
The Canadian law to allow medical assistance in dying (MAID) followed a Supreme Court of Canada ruling that struck down the law forbidding physician assisted dying, saying the old law violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The federal law, however, makes no indication that healthcare professionals would have to participate in MAID.
But, a College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario policy requires practitioners who conscientiously object to MAID to provide an effective referral to a non-objecting, available and accessible physician, nurse practitioner or agency. . . [Full text]
The Catholic Register
With more than 22,000 emails and letters in their in-boxes, Ontario legislators have rarely been under as much pressure to amend a bill as they have been over conscience rights for doctors in Bill-84.
In response, Ontario Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins has promised to have a “care co-ordination service” up and running as early as May. . .
However, Hoskins and the Liberals have so far avoided saying they would override the policy of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario which requires doctors to refer for medically assisted death even against their moral, religious and ethical convictions. . . [Full text]