Canadian parliamentarians are attempting to pass a law that would protect the conscience rights of doctors, as government leaders look to expand access to euthanasia in the country. Source: CNA.
Conservative MP David Anderson introduced a private member’s bill in October seeking to protect medical practitioners unwilling to euthanise their patients or provide referrals for medically induced deaths.
Mr Anderson said he was inspired to submit the bill after hearing complaints from doctors that Canada’s “medical assistance in dying” (MAID) policies were a violation of the Hippocratic Oath.
“One [part] of that oath is ‘we will not administer poison,’” Mr Anderson said. “So it’s clear, right? And yet, now the medical system is expected to be the ones who actually administer these drugs that terminate people’s lives.”
The legislation would make it illegal to “intimidate a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or any other health care professional for the purpose of compelling them to take part, directly or indirectly, in the provision of medical assistance in dying.”
The bill would also make it an offence to fire someone for refusing to take part in MAID. Canada’s health care system is government-run, tying doctors’ working conditions and practice closely to ministerial policy.
Last year, MAID accounted for 1.12 per cent of all deaths in Canada. Although Canadians have an option to self-administer the drugs to end their lives, only a single person chose this option.
Mr Anderson said he is concerned that the legislation, coupled with Canada’s ageing population and increasingly expensive health care system, could result in dehumanisation.
Women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of disability are “encouraged to abort [their child] so they’re not part of our medical system beyond that one event,” Mr Anderson said.
The MP is worried that this attitude could be expanded to view the elderly and persons with disabilities as unnecessarily expensive costs to the health care system.
“Certainly, seniors, disabled people cost the system more than the healthy people do,” Mr Anderson said. “You can see people justifying assisted suicide, euthanasia in the future in order to save money, and we don’t want to get to that point.”