Paul Schratz - Life In The Schratz Lane

Euthanasia compromises real health care

Voices Feb. 8, 2018

Fraser Health Authority chairman Jim Sinclair told hospice workers at the Feb. 7 board meeting FHA will continue to dialogue with them but assisted suicide will be mandated in hospice and palliative care facilities. (Agnieszka Krawczynski photo)

With the annual 40 Days for Life campaign starting on Ash Wednesday, it’s never been more appropriate to pray for the sanctity of human life from conception to its natural end.

At the pre-born level, governments are doing everything they can to make chemical abortions cheap and easy. They’re funding abortion pills, stripping funding from organizations trying to bring about legal change, and dubbing abortion a constitutionally guaranteed right when it’s nothing of the sort.

At the opposite end of the life spectrum, the media, particularly the CBC, are likewise deceptively describing euthanasia as a “constitutionally guaranteed health-care service.” They’re running one-sided propaganda segments aimed at tugging your heartstrings at the least obstacle to euthanasia.

 Now hospices and palliative care units dedicated to accompanying those at the end of their lives are being ordered to facilitate euthanasia. Instead of affirming life, they’re being directed to help end it.

 In this week’s B.C. Catholic, Agnieszka Krawczynski speaks to several hospice volunteers who say the push by the Fraser Health Authority and others to mandate assisted suicide in its palliative care program is wrong-headed, violating the rights of workers, patients, and institutions.

They predict the drying up of donations and the departure of workers and volunteers as devoted men and women dedicated to preserving and nurturing life find themselves increasingly implicated in a culture of death.

 The medical director of Fraser Health’s palliative care program has resigned over the matter. Dr. Neil Hilliard told Fraser Health he would rather work to support patients who choose life in the face of death. He quoted the founder of hospice, Dame Cicely Saunders, who said, “You matter to the last moment of your life, and we will do all we can, not only to help you die peacefully, but to live until you die.”

Let’s be honest about how fundamentally flawed the idea of demanding euthanasia in a palliative care setting is. It’s intrinsically at odds with the purpose of the department and makes a mockery of it, like mandating abortions in a neonatal unit.

Years ago, when right-to-die activists were lobbying for permission to help people end their lives, there were predictions it wouldn’t stop there, and it hasn’t. The scope of euthanasia is increasing at an alarming rate unseen even in Belgium, the previous bellwether.

Like abortion, euthanasia is being depicted as something everyone has a right to, anytime, anywhere, for any reason. And now, the ultimate insult, palliative care providers who work for to maintain the quality of life of their patients – something diametrically opposed to suicide – are being conscripted to the cause.

Euthanasia and hospice care cannot co-exist without end-of-life care being compromised. That’s what a number of hospice workers told Fraser Health at a public meeting last week.

As Vancouver family doctor Williard Johnston writes in a column reprinted on Page 3, forcing assisted suicide into hospice and palliative care settings “will just torpedo the 40-year struggle to convince often-fearful patients that palliative hospices are not about hastening death.”

Fraser Health says it’s committed to continuing to dialogue but also going ahead with requiring assisted suicide in hospice and palliative care. It should commit to scrapping this wrong-headed idea.