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BC: BC Health Authority orders hospices to euthanize

By Alex Schadenberg

THE RECENT EDICT by the Fraser Health Authority in British Columbia ordering non-religious healthcare facilities, including hospices, to participate in euthanasia (MAiD) is an infringement on the conscience rights of the medical staff.

The edict by Fraser Health directly affects institutions such as the Delta Hospice that is opposed to participating in euthanasia. Janice Strukoff, an administrative leader with the Delta Hospice 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 principles 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 order by the health authority, Delta hospice rejected the order and Dr Neil Hilliard, the medical director of the Fraser Health Palliative Care, 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…”

A January meeting in Langley BC attracted 300 people and featured federal MP Mark Warawa and provincial MLA Mary Polak, along with representatives from the Fraser Health Authority. At the meeting Warawa commented that the battle to protect conscience rights “is not over. It’s just begun.” He also said that permitting MAiD “will destroy palliative care as it has developed.”

Polak was forthright in her comments: “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 —…into a hospice palliative circumstance, is to completely contradict what palliative care is to begin with…”

The decision of the Fraser Health Authority also affects plans to build a new hospice in Langley. Kathy Derksen, the executive director of the Langley hospice stated: “When MAiD was first law, Fraser Health consulted with stakeholders and agreed it would not be imposed on hospice and palliative care facilities.”   TAP

Alex Schadenberg is the International Chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.   

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