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Defending life
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Canadian hospices being bullied into offering euthanasia

27 February 2018

Canada's euthanasia regime gets more and more extreme.

There's also worrying signs about child euthanasia

A healthcare authority in Canada has been accused of using "bullying" tactics to increase pressure on hospices to offer euthanasia.

The Fraser Health Authority, which delivers healthcare to 1.8 million people in southern British Columbia, has imposed Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) in a variety of health facilities across the region, including hospices.

The decision led to the high-profile resignation of Dr. Neil Hilliard, the executive director of the Fraser Health Palliative Care Program. In his resignation letter, he quoted from Balfour Mount, the father of palliative care in Canada, who said: "I deeply resent the manipulative phrase 'medically assisted dying' when referring to legalising euthanasia. Medically assisted dying is what I have been concerned with for forty years. It has no relationship with intentionally ending my patient's life. Instead, the goal is quality of life." 

Reducing access for the majority

Various health care workers and volunteers are fighting the move.

"I’m speaking on behalf of the sick and most vulnerable who cannot advocate for themselves," said Nancy Macey, the executive director of Delta Hospice Society.

She says that forcing assisted suicide into hospices could mean that the majority of terminally ill patients, who won’t seek assisted suicide, might fear entering a hospice. 

"If people are afraid to access it, there is going to be more suffering. There is going to be people ending up in emergency departments, there will be caregiver burnout and people will die in emergency care and hospitals, all the stuff we’ve been working on for 25 years to avoid."

Must stop now

The Archbishop of Vancouver has also slammed the policy, calling it "a serious error" on behalf of government and health authorities.  "The government needs to immediately halt any efforts to force access to assisted suicide in facilities where caregivers – whether family, friends, or health-care workers or volunteers – selflessly attend to the sick and suffering," said Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB in a statement.

He also said that "we as a society are doing something wrong" if so many people are committing suicide. "The fact that more than 2,000 Canadians have ended their lives with a doctor’s assistance calls us to action: we need to reach out to the suffering in our midst."

Child euthanasia next?

Meanwhile, Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is warning of another sinister extension of Canada's euthanasia regime. The Biennial Provincial Symposium on Paediatric Palliative Care (at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto on April 25) will feature a break-out session titled: "Developing a policy on Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) for Paediatric Patients." 

"I fear that either the Council of Canadian Academies has already decided to extend euthanasia to paediatric patients or the Canadian Paediatric Society has decided that euthanasia will be extended to children and newborns and is using this Symposium to develop a policy for when the killing begins," he says. 

News in brief:

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