Thursday, December 19, 2019

Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians: Euthanasia is not consistent with the philosophy, intent or approach of hospice palliative care.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
*Sign the petition: Hospice Organizations Must NOT be Forced to do Euthanasia (Link).
On December 2, I reported that the Delta Hospice Society that operates the Irene Thomas Hospice in Ladner BC, renewed its opposition to euthanasia (MAiD) while supporting excellent care. The Board stated:
MAiD is not compatible with the Delta Hospice Society purposes stated in the society's constitution, and therefore, will not be performed at the Irene Thomas Hospice.

Irene Thomas Hospice
The BC Health Minister, Adrian Dix, responded by declaring that the provincial government will take action if the Delta hospice refuses to kill its patients. Dix suggested that they will stop funding the 10 bed hospice if they refuse to do MAiD.


In its recent Call to Action, the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) and the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians (CSPCP) stated that MAiD (euthanasia) is not part of hospice palliative care.

On Tuesday, the President of the CSPCP, Dr Leonie Herx, sent a letter to Minister Dix supporting the refusal by the Delta Hospice Society to do euthanasia (MAiD) and stating that MAiD is not consistent with the philosophy, intent, or approach of hospice palliative care which supports dying as a natural process and does not hasten death: Herx stated:
The Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians is concerned that palliative care centres in Fraser Health, such as some hospices, might be mandated to provide Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) on site. While we appreciate the requirement for MAiD to be available, requiring it to be provided in hospices and palliative care units poses risk for potential harm. The risks are outlined in in our submission to the Special Joint Committee: (Link).
The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) and Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians (CSPCP) recently released a Joint Statement on Hospice Palliative Care and MAiD which further outlines that MAiD is not consistent with the philosophy, intent, or approach of hospice palliative care which supports dying as a natural process and does not hasten death: (Link).
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) also recognizes the distinct nature of these practices in the unanimously passed General Council Resolution DM 5-63 which states: The Canadian Medical Association recognizes that the practice of assisted death as defined by the Supreme Court of Canada is distinct from the practice of palliative care.
One of the biggest potential harms is to those who do not choose MAiD (more than 98% of those who die as only about 1.5% choose MAiD). Both the public and many health care providers have had a longstanding fear of Hospice Palliative Care because they were afraid it hastened peoples’ deaths. This has led to late referrals and people choosing to not be referred to palliative care services that could have benefited them. For over 40 years we have been trying to educate the public and health care professionals that Hospice Palliative Care neither hastens nor prolongs the natural process of dying.
The core philosophy of hospice care is to provide a culture of caring that enables persons to live fully until they die a natural death and to minimize the symptoms and fears of the dying process, but never to intentionally hasten death.
Insisting that MAiD be provided in all palliative care centres and hospices has the potential to undermine the last 40 years of education about and advocacy for Hospice Palliative Care and goes against the core, foundational principles of hospice care. It also removes choice for those who want to choose a natural death supported by high quality hospice palliative care without fear their lives will be shortened.
Hospices and PC units should be able to make their own local arrangements for patients who request MAiD that allows patients access to this procedure and also maintains the integrity and availability of Hospice Palliative Care.
We kindly ask for you to consider the risk of harm and to help provide good access to high quality hospice palliative care.
Sign the petition: Hospice Organizations Must NOT be Forced to do Euthanasia (Link).

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