Opinion: UCP coverage proposals on MAID value a re-assessment

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In a latest opinion column, Cynthia Clark assaults coverage proposals on medical help in dying (MAID) introduced on the latest United Conservative Get together conference. It’s value noting that, even when handed, these proposals may by no means be adopted by the Alberta authorities, or may be revised alongside the way in which.

Nonetheless, a few of the proposals make sense, particularly these defending freedom of conscience for Alberta health-care professionals. Earlier than discussing that, it’s value relating terminology. MAID is a euphemism for assisted suicide, coined by the Trudeau authorities in a bid to make the act socially acceptable.

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Many Canadians opposed the legalization of assisted suicide and the widespread behavior of describing it as medical care or therapy. In her column, Clark underscores what she phrases the “huge” distinction between encouraging a sufferers to finish their life, and making them “conscious of all of the care choices . . . obtainable.”

The distinction is just not huge, however typically fairly delicate. That’s as a result of those that are “informing” the affected person sometimes embody medical doctors whose sturdy affect over affected person decisions, together with end-of-life decisions, is plain. That’s with out weighing the affect of pro-MAID medical doctors, who won’t be shy about providing their opinions.

Describing assisted suicide as one other “care possibility,” as if it have been akin to antibiotic therapy, is solely deceptive. It’s state-sanctioned killing, albeit with the affected person’s consent. As such, many medical doctors think about it morally unsuitable and refuse to offer or take part in it.

That brings us to freedom of conscience, one thing Clark says Alberta’s health-care staff, presumably together with medical doctors, “have already got” relating to MAID. Truly, they don’t, at the very least not the type of freedom of conscience that’s protected by legislation. On that rating, Alberta MLA Dan Williams tabled Invoice 207 supposed to provide them that proper, which didn’t cross.

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In Ontario, whereas not required to offer assisted suicide, medical doctors should make an “efficient referral,” that means referring the affected person to a MAID-compliant physician. Briefly, they need to do not directly what, for causes of conscience, they won’t do immediately: facilitate assisted suicide. In the event that they make such a referral, many Catholic and Christian medical doctors consider they’re morally complicit within the affected person’s dying.

In Alberta, the state of affairs is totally different: sufferers don’t at all times rely immediately on medical doctors to entry assisted suicide. In impact, this frees Alberta practitioners from the dilemma dealing with their Ontario colleagues however affords no authorized safety for these whose freedom of conscience may later be challenged on these or different grounds. There’s nonetheless ample purpose to enact an Alberta legislation defending health-care professionals’ freedom of conscience.

Clark says it’s “not acceptable” to grant freedom of conscience to publicly funded establishments that may “impose” it on their staff. Whereas she doesn’t particularly title Catholic hospitals and amenities, it’s primarily these that don’t supply assisted suicide, a stance totally in keeping with their faith-based mandate: to respect human life in any respect phases, from conception to pure dying.

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Had been Catholic health-care amenities pressured to supply assisted suicide, as Clark implies they need to be, considered one of two issues would occur. Both they’d willingly forfeit public funding and shut down reasonably than be complicit, or they’d supply assisted suicide and stop being Catholic establishments. To this point, governments haven’t pressured Catholic hospitals to make that selection.

Many who enter Catholic hospitals and care houses achieve this by selection, figuring out the establishments’ mandate. Many non-Catholics and non-Christians make the identical selection, typically for the life-affirming ethic that prevails in these amenities. When the going will get powerful, as properly it might, these sufferers know they are going to by no means be provided dying as a so-called “therapy possibility.” That’s a reduction for a lot of Albertans.

James Mahony is a retired lawyer and journalist. A Roman Catholic and board member of the Ontario-based Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, he writes and speaks about end-of-life points, together with advance directives, euthanasia and assisted suicide. 

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