By Jonathon Van Maren
First it was the so-called “right to die.” Once the suicide activists attained that, it became the right to be killed at the institution of their choice, regardless of whether or not others had any qualms about transforming their approach to medicine and repudiating the Hippocratic Oath. As is so often the case with progressive causes, this latest crusade is about the destruction of freedom in the name of freedom. Consider the latest episode in their war on conscience, covered last week by Global News:
A Nova Scotia Catholic congregation, thrust into a controversy about the right to die, is confident its policy will endure. The Sisters of St. Martha has an agreement with the Nova Scotia government, forbidding medical assistance in dying, at Saint Martha’s Hospital in Antigonish, N.S.
“It is named in the agreement that we don’t do a suicide,” says Congregation leader, Sister Brendalee Boisvert. “We believe in protecting life until the end.”
Almost three years after the federal government legalized medically-assisted dying, critics say it’s time for the Saint Martha’s exemption to end.
“The bottom line is that a faith-based institution should not be allowed to impose its’ faith, its values, on the citizens of a community who may not share them,” said Jocelyn Downie, a professor at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University who specializes in health law.
Consider the irony of a professor stating that a faith-based institution should not be allowed to “impose” its beliefs while making the case that her beliefs, which are incidentally rooted in a single recent Supreme Court case as opposed to thousands of years of religious belief and medical tradition, should be imposed on such institutions. Her argument would be almost humorous if it was not being used for such insidious purposes. More:
St. Martha’s is far from alone. More than 100 Catholic hospitals and nursing homes across Canada also forbid medically-assisted dying, including 17 sites operated by Covenant Health in Alberta.
When Bob Hergott’s ALS paralyzed him, he was unable to access assisted dying at a Covenant hospital in Edmonton, or even sign a request form to have the procedure done elsewhere.
His best friend, Verna Young, says Hergott was forced to leave hospital property in his wheelchair. “My daughter and I, we met him the day he decided to sign the forms,” said Young. “We met him out across the street, in a bus shelter. It was pouring rain.” To Young, it was a heart-breaking episode.
“It’s just sort of pathetic,” she said.
This anecdote was obviously intended to highlight the cruelty of a hospital that will not kill its patients, even upon request. Notice the language being used here: Because this institution does not provide this particular service, this man was “forced” into the “pouring rain,” with the facts being presented in such a way that the reader immediately visualizes some poor, sick man being rolled out of the cold, evil institution that will not kill him. Global News clearly wants you to take the side of the man who wants to kill himself, not that of those who do not want to help him kill himself:
Covenant has since changed its policy, so assessments can be done on site. But medically-assisted dying is still banned. The longer that perceived double standard continues, advocates say, the more likely it becomes that the battleground will move — from a hospital room to the courtroom.
“A court challenge is certainly one of the options that is being looked at,” says Jim Cowan of the advocacy group Dying With Dignity, which wants provincial health agencies to end the Catholic hospital exemptions.
The Nova Scotia Health Authority’s interim vice-president of medicine, Dr. Mark Taylor, says the province is considering a change, with the threat of a possible Charter challenge looming.
“That has led to considerable discussion within the NSHA with regard to how to manage that particular issue,” said Taylor. Dr. Taylor expects the Nova Scotia policy will be released in coming weeks.
This is what the next decade is going to look like. The suicide activists were never going to be satisfied with having the courts concoct the fictitious right to die. They want collaboration from everyone, and they will continue to push until conscience rights are a thing of the past.
For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.