Two Christian hospitals in Winnipeg, Manitoba, have opted out of the assisted suicide law passed by Canada’s liberal government in June.
Concordia Hospital, a Mennonite institution, and St. Boniface Hospital, a Catholic facility, announced they will not kill patients but agreed to refer those seeking assisted suicide to other groups that will.
On Nov. 16, Concordia hospital ran a response to Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying law, known as MAID, in a local newspaper. After consulting its doctors and staff in June, it adopted a policy against MAID.
“We are committed to providing respect and dignity in care to every person throughout his or her life from conception to natural death,” the ad said. “Concordia believes that providing healthcare is a ministry assigned to us by Christ and is expressive of our Anabaptist faith, values, and ethics.”
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) honored the hospital’s decision to opt out based on “ethical and moral beliefs,” the ad stated. According to the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC), WRHA is set up to help those seeking assisted suicide at faith-based hospitals to get their death prescription elsewhere.
Although the law allows for conscience protections for hospitals, not everyone approves of the waiver. Arthur Schafer, director of the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics, said hospitals should be forced to comply with the law.
“The people who work within those institutions have a conscience, the institution doesn’t,” he told CBC. “Their belief, which is a legitimate religious conviction they have, shouldn’t be imposed on patients, doctors, nurses, or the general public.”
When Bill C-14 became law this summer, it legalized assisted suicide in two ways: A physician or nurse practitioner can administer a lethal injection, or they can prescribe pills a patient can self-administer. Those seeking either method must be at least 18 years old, have “a grievous or irremediable medical condition,” and must consent to die.
In California, a situation similar to the one in Manitoba arose when medical centers opted out of the End of Life Option Act that went into effect in June.
Five U.S. states—Oregon, Washington, Vermont, California, and Colorado—currently have laws legalizing assisted suicide.
— by Samantha Gobba