News

St. Martha’s Hospital remains firm on policy against medically-assisted dying

St. Martha’s Hospital remains firm on policy against medically-assisted dying
Health
The Sisters of St. Martha has an agreement with the Nova Scotia government, forbidding medical assistance in dying , at Saint Martha’s Hospital in Antigonish, N.S.

“It is named in the agreement that we don’t do a suicide,” says Congregation leader, Sister Brendalee Boisvert.

“We believe in protecting life until the end.”

Almost three years after the federal government legalized medically-assisted dying, critics say it’s time for the Saint Martha’s exemption to end.

“The bottom line is that a faith-based institution should not be allowed to impose its’ faith, its values, on the citizens of a community who may not share them,” said Jocelyn Downie, a professor at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University who specializes in health law.

St. Martha’s is far from alone. More than 100 Catholic hospitals and nursing homes across Canada also forbid medically-assisted dying, including 17 sites operated by Covenant Health in Alberta.

When Bob Hergott’s ALS paralyzed him, he was unable to access assisted dying at a Covenant hospital in Edmonton, or even sign a request form to have the procedure done elsewhere.

His best friend, Verna Young, says Hergott was forced to leave hospital property in his wheelchair.

“My daughter and I, we met him the day he decided to sign the forms,” said Young. “We met him out across the street, in a bus shelter. It was pouring rain.”

To Young, it was a heart-breaking episode.

“It’s just sort of pathetic,” she said.

Covenant has since changed its policy, so assessments can be done on site. But medically-assisted dying is still banned.

The longer that perceived double standard continues, advocates say, the more likely it becomes that the battleground will move — from a hospital room to the courtroom.

“A court challenge is certainly one of the options that is being looked at,” says Jim Cowan of the advocacy group Dying With Dignity, which wants provincial health agencies to end the Catholic hospital exemptions.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority’s interim vice-president of medicine, Dr. Mark Taylor, says the province is considering a change, with the threat of a possible Charter challenge looming.

“That has led to considerable discussion within the NSHA with regard to how to manage that particular issue,” said Taylor.
Read more on globalnews.ca
News Topics :
RELATED STORIES :
Top Stories
A Vancouver Island doctor is resigning from the ethics committee at a local Catholic hospital because it refuses to offer assisted dying on site, a stand that he says is...
Canada
Since medically assisted death became legal in Canada in 2016, at faith based health centres and had to be transferred to another facility to follow through on their requests. It’s...
Canada
Friends of Medicare is calling on the provincial government to create legislation that would ensure equal access to Medical Assistance In Dying MAID at all Alberta hospital facilities. The not for profit...
Top Stories
The first time that Ian Pope was transferred out of a Vancouver Catholic hospital for an assisted death eligibility assessment, the appointment started badly and ended worse. On the taxi ride...
Canada
Cassandra Desmond, left, and her sister Chantel Desmond are seen in Antigonish, N.S. on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Their brother, Lionel Desmond, a 33 year old veteran of the war in Afghanistan...