Catholic health provider cautious about assisted dying ahead of new law

An internal memo from a Roman Catholic health-care provider in Vancouver reminds its leadership team that physician-assisted dying violates the Catholic faith and until the law changes the service will not be provided.

VANCOUVER — An internal memo from a Roman Catholic health-care provider in Vancouver reminds its leadership team that physician-assisted dying violates the Catholic faith and until the law changes the service will not be provided.

The memo from management at Providence Health Care says that while the organization currently forbids the practice, it will monitor and conform to the law as it takes shape. Providence operates 10 facilities, including St. Paul’s, the only hospital in Vancouver’s West End.

Last year, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the ban on physician-assisted dying, and the government has until June 6 to come up with replacement legislation.

“(Physician-assisted dying) contradicts the basic tenets of Catholic health care, wherein life is held to be sacred from conception to natural death, and not permitted in Catholic health care institutions such as Providence,” read the memo, dated Feb. 16.

Requests for assisted suicide from patients who have secured the required exemption from B.C. Supreme Court will be treated on a case-by-case basis to find a final solution, said the document.

“This will be done presumably within the interim structures established in other health-care facilities in the region.”

The memo came to light as parliamentarians tasked with exploring how Canada should craft its assisted-suicide laws recommended that all publicly funded hospitals be required to offer the right to die to clearly consenting adults suffering intolerably from irremediable medical conditions.

Their report encourages legislators to take into account a doctor’s right to conscientiously object, but also calls for regulations that require those physicians to provide a patient with a referral.

The Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience criticized the committee report on Thursday for not going far enough to protect the rights of health-care workers and facilities.

Forcing these institutions to offer a service that infringes on their religious beliefs tramples on their constitutional right to freedom of conscience and religion, said Larry Worthen, executive director of the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada, in a statement.

Assisted-suicide advocates celebrated the news, describing the committees conclusions as thoughtful and balanced.

Shanaaz Gokool, CEO of Dying With Dignity Canada, singled out the recommendation that the service be available at all publicly funded medical facilities.

“This is one of the pieces where the rubber is going to hit the road for access,” Gokool said.

“These are institutions that receive public funds and they should honour patients’ charter rights to an assisted death.”

A faith-based organization’s moral positions may not reflect the beliefs of all of its staff, she added.

B.C. Humanist Association executive director Ian Bushfield said he was pleased with the work that came out of parliamentary committee. The association provides a voice for atheists, agnostics and non-religious in B.C.

Bushfield expressed frustration over Providence Health Care’s stance on assisted suicide.

“There are religious viewpoints that oppose blood transfusions,” he said, making an analogy to religious opposition to physician-assisted dying.

“Yet I can’t imagine we would be OK as a society funding a hospital that refused to provide blood transfusions and having it be the main hospital in downtown Vancouver.”

Just Posted

Scares and chills await at haunted house in Red Deer

Zed Haunted House helps raise money for Boys and Girls Club of Red Deer District

PHOTO: Renewable Energy Fair at Red Deer College

The Renewable Energy Fair and Workshops event was held at Red Deer… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Red Deer College Queens host third annual Pink in the Rink game

Queens raised $12,035 for the Central Alberta Cancer Centre.

PHOTOS: The Mustard Seed CEO speaks at Seeds of Hope Gala in Red Deer

The first-ever Seeds of Hope Gala was held at the Red Deer… Continue reading

Person airlifted to hospital after collision near Innisfail

One person was airlifted to hospital after a serious collision west of… Continue reading

WATCH: Make-A-Wish grants Star Wars loving teen’s wish

The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Anakin Suerink’s wish in Red Deer Saturday afternoon

Turkey to reveal details of probe into Khashoggi’s killing

ISTANBUL — In a sign of growing pressure on Saudi Arabia, Turkey… Continue reading

Utah truck driver is jailed without bond after crash kills 6

HEBER, Utah — A man suspected of driving under the influence remained… Continue reading

A ragged, growing army of migrants resumes march toward US

TAPACHULA, Mexico — A ragged army of Honduran migrants streamed through southern… Continue reading

Postal workers to begin strikes in 4 Canadian cities Monday if deal not reached

OTTAWA — The union representing 50,000 Canada Post employees says it will… Continue reading

Migrant caravan swells to 5,000, resumes advance toward US

CIUDAD HIDALGO, Mexico — Despite Mexican efforts to stop them at the… Continue reading

“I don’t feel real”: Mental stress mounting after Michael

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Amy Cross has a hard time explaining the… Continue reading

Toronto residents set to vote Monday on the next four years of civic leaders

Toronto’s municipal election campaign, marked by unprecedented provincial interference, ends Monday when… Continue reading

Former PQ minister Lise Payette remembered as role model for female politicians

MONTREAL — Members from across Quebec’s political spectrum gathered at a downtown… Continue reading

Most Read