The Corner

Canadian Docs Lower Conscience Rights than Veterinarians?

Canada’s official government panel–charged with recommending the terms for the Supreme Court-imposed right to euthanasia–wants MDs (and nurses) to have lower conscience rights than veterinarians.

What do I mean? If someone presents a pet to be euthanized, the veterinarian can say no if she thinks the condition of the animal does not warrant that extreme action.

But if the panel gets its way, not so doctors. It wants all MDs required by law to either kill the legally qualified patient or–if they have a religious or other predicated conscience objection to committing homicide–to provide an “effective referral” to a colleague to do the lethal injecting.

“Effective referral” will likely mean procuring a death doctor they know will be willing to do the deed, which is the law in Victoria, Australia around abortion. From the report:

RECOMMENDATION 10 That the Government of Canada work with the provinces and territories and their medical regulatory bodies to establish a process that respects a health care practitioner’s freedom of conscience while at the same time respecting the needs of a patient who seeks medical assistance in dying. At a minimum, the objecting practitioner must provide an effective referral for the patient. 

Some objecting doctors might try to get around the effective referral requirement by claiming they didn’t find the patient legally qualified medically. 

But conscientiously religiously or morally objecting nurses would have no such wiggle room.

The panel wants nurses to be allowed to do the killing. But since they wouldn’t be the ones determining whether a patient was qualified legally for euthanasia, nurses would face the stark choice of administering the lethal injection when directed by a doctor, or being insubordinate and losing their livelihood.

The same would no doubt apply to pharmacists who would concoct the death brew.

Not only that, but religious medical institutions will be required to permit euthanasia in their facilities if the panel has its way.

This includes Catholic nursing homes if they receive government funding, which I am told, is how Canada’s system works. Again, from the report:

RECOMMENDATION 11 That the Government of Canada work with the provinces and territories to ensure that all publicly funded health care institutions provide medical assistance in dying. 

Here’s the bottom line: If the panel’s recommendations are enacted, to practice medicine, nursing, pharmacy, or run a nursing home or hospice in Canada will require participation or complicity in the killing of sick, disabled, and mentally ill patients.

There’s a word for that. Hint: It is the antithesis of liberty.

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