(LifeSiteNews) –– The pro-euthanasia lobbying group “Dying With Dignity Canada” is pressuring the provincial government of British Columbia to mandate that Catholic hospitals in the province offer euthanasia as an option to their patients who ask for it.
The latest push to mandate euthanasia in Catholic hospitals comes after Samantha O’Neill, 34, was transferred on April 4 from the Catholic-run St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver to St. John’s Hospice, which is run by Vancouver Coastal Health, to receive medical assistance in dying (MAiD).
According to a recent Vancouver Sun report, Dying With Dignity Canada started an extreme lobbying campaign with the O’Neill family after O’Neill was transferred to the hospice.
St. Paul’s is run by Providence Health Care, which is a “Catholic health care community dedicated to meeting the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of those served through compassionate care, teaching and research.”
In accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church, St. Paul’s does not offer MAiD as an option to its patients. In British Columbia, like all hospitals, Catholic hospitals are non-profit and funded mostly by the government. However, due to their religious beliefs, Catholic hospitals are typically afforded some level of autonomy.
In 2027, St. Paul’s is slated to receive $2 billion in new taxpayer funding, which Dying With Dignity Canada claims should be stopped because the hospital won’t provide MAiD. The group is pushing the left-wing New Democratic Party (NDP) provincial government to force St. Paul’s and all other Catholic hospitals in the province to provide MAiD.
According to Dying with Dignity Canada’s CEO Helen Long, “such policies will remain in place unless there’s a successful court challenge.”
The chair of the Metro Vancouver chapter of Dying With Dignity Canada, Alex Muir, in a letter published in the Vancouver Sun, said that O’Neill having to undergo a “forced transfer” to a hospice that would comply with her request to be killed was “horrific.”
“The province has the power and the financial leverage to change this, but lacks the political will due to Providence [Health Care]’s prominence in our publicly funded health care system. Shame all around,” wrote Muir.
Lobby group is coming after ‘Catholics,’ warns head of pro-life hospice society
Pro-life Delta Hospice Society (DHS) President Angelina Ireland told LifeSiteNews that Dying with Dignity Canada is “going after Catholics” and must be stopped.
“If they get their way that means no sanctuaries for the dying, be it faith-based or purely palliative care oriented,” she said.
“Everyone is equal – except some people are more equal than others? That is not progress – that is tyranny.”
Ireland’s concerns are from experience, as British Columbia has already taken action against DHS for its refusal to compromise its life-affirming ethic.
In February of 2021, DHS was stripped of all its provincial funding because it did not provide MAiD. The government then in effect commandeered the society’s existing buildings and turned them into a MAiD-providing facility.
On March 29, 2021, DHS was evicted from its two buildings after 35 years when the Fraser Health Authority, one of five publicly-funded healthcare regions in British Columbia, canceled its lease with the pro-life group over its refusal to allow euthanasia at its palliative care facility.
Both the Irene Thomas Hospice and the Supportive Care Centre were taken by the Fraser Health Authority. DHS was given no compensation for its assets, which had an estimated value of $9 million.
As it stands, the DHS is operating out of a small office. It still operates a store, The Hospice Cottage Charity Shoppe, which now serves as its main source of revenue.
Dying With Dignity Canada last year was unsuccessful however in trying to stage a hostile takeover of the Delta Hospice Society’s board of directors. Instead, the society elected a slate of fully pro-life members.
The official teaching of the Catholic Church has been that euthanasia is a “crime against human life” and is not permissible in any circumstances.
Official condemnations have been made in recent decades by not only the Second Vatican Council, but Popes Pius XII, Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI. For example, in Evangelium Vitae, John Paul II directly warned against using the term “freedom” as a defense for euthanasia.
Petition launched to defend Catholic hospitals’ right to uphold the Church’s teaching on euthanasia
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) has launched a petition to British Columbia’s Health Minister Adrian Dix, calling upon him to oppose mandating Catholic hospitals be forced to provide MAiD.
“Catholic medical institutions must not be forced to provide euthanasia (MAiD),” reads the petition.
“The euthanasia lobby is basing their lobbying efforts on the case of a woman who wanted to die an assisted death and was transferred to a hospice based on her request for an assisted death.”
The petition notes, in regards to O’Neill’s case, that firstly, “the law does not require every health care institution to kill their patients by euthanasia. Secondly, Catholic health care institutions have a long history of providing excellent care,” it reads.
“Thirdly, this woman was not abandoned. She was provided excellent palliative care, but when she insisted on dying by an assisted death, the Catholic hospital transferred her.”
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s 1980 “Declaration on Euthanasia” stated undoubtedly that “no one is permitted to ask for this act of killing, either for himself or herself or for another person entrusted to his or her care, nor can he or she consent to it, either explicitly or implicitly, nor can any authority legitimately recommend or permit such an action.”
In 2020, the CDF reiterated its stance on euthanasia with Samaritanus bonus, calling euthanasia “a crime against human life because, in this act, one chooses directly to cause the death of another innocent human being.”
The government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau legalized euthanasia in 2016, and since that time deaths have skyrocketed under its MAiD program. There has also been a continued push to further expand who can qualify for state-sanctioned death.
The allowance of MAiD for those suffering solely from mental illness came as part of the 2021 passage of Bill C-7, which also allowed the chronically ill – not just the terminally ill – to qualify for doctor-assisted death.
The mental illness expansion was originally set to take effect in March. However, after massive pushback from pro-life groups, conservative politicians, and others, the Liberals under Trudeau delayed the introduction of the full effect of Bill C-7 until 2024 via Bill C-39, which became law on March 9.
Overall, there was a 35 percent increase in state-sanctioned assisted suicides in 2022 in Canada, with estimates showing some 13,500 Canadians had their lives taken by the medical system that year alone.