Killing Conscience Rights in BC Hospitals and Hospices
The recent edict by Fraser Health Authority in British Columbia ordering (non-religious) healthcare facilities, including hospices, to participate in euthanasia (MAiD – so-called “medical assistance in dying”) is an infringement on the conscience rights of medical staff. We believe that institutional conscience rights for healthcare workers includes their right not to participate in acts they consider wrong.
The order by Fraser Health directly affects institutions such as the Delta Hospice that is opposed to participating in euthanasia. Janice Strukoff, an administrative leader for the Delta Hospice Society stated, “Hospice palliative care is not about hastening death and we object to the bullying currently taking place in B.C.”
Nancy Macey, the founder and executive director of the Delta Hospice stated, “MAiD can be a traumatizing experience for staff, patients, and volunteers, and all groups might not want to stay or work there if the principals of palliative care are compromised. Hospices are already grappling with a shortage of health professionals so compelling the society to provide MAiD could exacerbate the problem.”
In response to the command by the Health Authority, Dr. Neil Hilliard, the medical director of Fraser Health Palliative Care resigned. Dr. Hilliard stated in his resignation letter, “Providing euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide is not in accordance with palliative care (which) 'affirms life and regards dying as a normal process…'”
BC MLA Mary Polak supported the Delta Hospice by stating, “To say that you are going to place medical assistance in dying—or let’s call it what it is, killing people. Sorry, but that is what it is—(and decide that) you’re going to put that into a hospice palliative circumstance, is to completely contradict what palliative care is to begin with.”
The attack on healthcare workers’ conscience rights has become a national issue in Canada. Recently, an Ontario Court decided that doctors who oppose euthanasia must participate by doing an “effective referral” for euthanasia.
Join us in signing a petition to Michael Marchbank, President of Fraser Health Authority.
FOR FURTHER READING…
Petition Supporting Ontario Doctors: Medical ethics in Ontario receives a lethal injection.
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Petition to: Michael Marchbank