Toronto, ON July 24, 2023 – The Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) has been monitoring the recent media reports originating from a case from St. Paul’s Hospital, in British Columbia regarding a patient who was sedated and transferred to another facility to have her life terminated through Canada’s euthanasia policy, Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD).
St. Paul’s Hospital, as with other entities within Providence Health Care, adheres to the Catholic understanding of the sanctity of life from conception until death. A natural death is one that must not be accelerated or inflicted. In this case, the patient never regained consciousness. Critics have suggested an absence of dignity in this death and place the blame on the Catholic ethos of life, for which extremists argue must stand down in a publicly funded system.
The right of Catholic hospitals to refuse to practice MAiD is being questioned, most notably by BC’s Minister of Health, Adrian Dix, who told Postmedia News, “With respect to patient transfers for MAID (medical assistance in dying), I think that patient-centred care demands that the patient’s wishes come first. And I’m working with Providence Health Care and St. Paul’s to see that that happens.”
These are chilling words from the health minister, words that are indicative of what the League has been warning Canadians about since the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) Carter decision of 2015 and the implementation of Canada’s assisted suicide/euthanasia regime in 2016.
The SCC stated in Carter, that fears of a slippery slope, or the acceleration of causes eligible for euthanasia as witnessed in other European jurisdictions, was not evident and unlikely to occur in Canada. How wrong such predictions have proven to be.
The CCRL has long sought that clear language be provided by the Court and the legislatures to assert the primacy of conscience rights of healthcare professionals. The Supreme Court stepped back from making any such pronouncement, preferring to allow a future “reconciliation” of competing rights claims.
Competing rights claims have led to the rapid expansion of euthanasia in Canada to include those whose deaths are not imminent and, effective March 2024, to those who suffer from mental illness as their primary health issue.
The rights of physicians to conscientiously object to killing a patient was never properly enshrined. The CCRL objected to the practice of “effective referral” in Ontario, which has been implemented by its College to require doctors to be complicit in an act which they find morally reprehensible.
The issue now finds its way into demanding that faith-based hospitals maintain policies or adopt practices for which these entities, through their origins, history, mission statements, and the continuing sincerely held beliefs of its stakeholders, have disallowed practices deemed conscientiously objectionable.
The CCRL has submitted in the past that “the continuance of historically recognized allowances, or work arounds that facilitate religious objection, should be maintained as part of our social fabric, and in recognition of the authentic pluralism of a free and democratic society. A forced compulsion over such rights is the negation of a truly authentic pluralist society.”
The public need not be reminded of the immense contribution that Catholic hospitals have made to Canada, contributions that continue. As palliative care, true medical assistance in dying in offering pain control, and dignified patient comfort at the end of life, which is in severe shortage across our nation. Catholic hospitals are at the forefront of providing that dignity.
In fact, St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver offers the city’s largest palliative care unit. Hopefully, more palliative care beds will be offered as St. Paul undergoes extensive renovations and expansion.
The CCRL urges the provincial government and the people of BC to see the rich contribution of Providence Health Care and St. Paul’s to the common good of the province and its people in offering end of life care to all citizens through palliative medicine, which indeed offers the dignity in dying that all people richly deserve.
We appeal to any of you who are able to send a donation to the CCRL by clicking here or by mailing a cheque to the CCRL at 2305 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON, M6S 1P1, or by calling the office at (416) 466-8244 or 1-844-722-CCRL.
About the CCRL
Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) (www.ccrl.ca) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. The CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization with a large nationwide membership base. The CCRL is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.
To donate to the CCRL, please click here.
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