Thursday, August 20, 2020

Delta BC Hospice continues legal battle to prevent euthanasia.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

In February 2018 the Board of the BC Delta Hospice Society was given an edict from Fraser Health to provide euthanasia (MAiD). At that time, the board of the Delta Hospice did not comply with the edict and continued its good work.

In December 2019, the Delta Hospice was then ordered to do euthanasia or lose it's government funding.

In February 2020, Adrian Dix, BC Minister of Health, gave notice that funding for the Delta Hospice would cease in February 2021 unless the Delta Hospice permitted euthanasia.

The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association and the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians have stated that: Euthanasia is not consistent with the philosophy, intent or approach of hospice palliative care.
Yesterday, the Epoch Times published an article by Lee Harding concerning the current plight of the Delta Hospice Society. Harding interviewed Angelina Ireland, the chair of the Delta Hospice Society (DHS) board who stated:
The B.C. government mandated that all hospices without a religious affiliation must provide medical assistance in dying (MAiD) on-site if more than half of their funding comes from taxpayers.

The DHS, which governs the privately operated Irene Thomas Hospice in Delta, is not affiliated with any religion but is opposed to physician-assisted suicide on moral and philosophical grounds. It offered to forfeit $750,000 in annual public funding in order to continue operations without providing MAiD on-site.

However, its offer was rejected by the provincial government and the Fraser Health Authority, which has jurisdiction over publicly funded health care in the region where the hospice is located. Instead, they said funding would continue until Feb. 25, 2021, after which the hospice would lose its licence and be unable to continue operations.
The Delta Hospice
The euthanasia lobby got involved by working with local activists to sell DHS memberships to people who support euthanasia. This group were also able to obtain an injunction to prevent the DHS from having a meeting to amend their statutes to recognize the Christian beliefs of the DHS founders and its board. The BC government does not force religious institutions to participate in euthanasia.

Harding reported that on June 12, Justice Sheila Fitzpatrick ordered DHS to accept all membership applications, even though the DHS is a private institution. Harding explains:

Lawyers for DHS argued before the B.C. Court of Appeal that the hospice was a private institution, not a public one, and that if B.C.’s Societies Act permitted such an order, it would violate the Charter freedoms of association and conscience.

On Aug. 17, the court announced it would allow the appeal, but no date has been set for hearings.
The legal question concerning a private institution being required to accept all memberships goes beyond the issue of the DHS itself and is a concern for many private institutions.

Harding interviewed Alex Muir, the co-chair of the Vancouver chapter of Dying With Dignity, a euthanasia lobby group, that indicated that euthanasia access at the Delta Hospice is important. Harding reports:

“Faith-based organizations are allowed to exempt themselves from providing medical assistance in dying if it’s against their beliefs. We don’t believe that should be allowed when they are publicly funded, and we don’t believe the government should be using taxpayer dollars to allow that to happen,” Muir said.

Dying With Dignity has launched a petition signed by over 1,500 people that calls on the province to end the MAiD exemption given to publicly funded faith-based facilities. The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has launched its own petition against forcing hospices to perform euthanasia, which has been signed by over 27,000 people.
Angelina Ireland
Harding reports that the DHS upholds that euthanasia (MAiD) and hospice care are different. Ireland stated:

“You’d think that these were 10 magical beds the way that everybody has been after us, and the government. It’s 10 beds that we’re trying to protect for palliative care in this province, and that is all we’re trying to do,” she says.

“We don’t want to battle with anybody. And we’re being forced to battle not only with the provincial government but with a campaign of euthanasia activists trying every which way they can to get into our hospice and force us to kill our patients. And that’s what we refuse to do.”
Sign the petition: Hospice organizations must NOT be forced to do euthanasia (Link).

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