WINNIPEG, Manitoba, June 22, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — St. Boniface Hospital is under fire from the media and euthanasia advocates for reversing a short-lived policy allowing euthanasia onsite in “rare” circumstances.
But the Catholic hospital has also reportedly lifted a previous ban on onsite assessments for euthanasia, which, if so, is “unacceptable,” said Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.
“The law requires the assessment be done, therefore, they are part of the death process,” he told LifeSiteNews. “This is direct cooperation with the act. It's unacceptable, if this is what they're doing.”
The board of St. Boniface Hospital — one of two locations in the city to offer palliative care — voted May 29 to allow euthanasia at the hospital in “rare circumstances.”
The Catholic Health Corporation of Manitoba (CHCM), which owns the hospital, thereupon appointed 10 new board members and requested a review of the policy.
On June 12, the new board reversed the policy and banned the killing of patients at St. Boniface, which was founded by the Grey Nuns. The religious order transferred ownership of the hospital to the Catholic Health Corporation in 2000.
“Our ethical position is that we can’t be involved in the taking of human life, even in rare circumstances,” Daniel Lussier, Catholic Health Corporation’s CEO, told the Winnipeg Sun.
But the CBC reported June 18 that the new board also approved assessments for euthanasia onsite, which, it says, was not the case previously.
The assessments are required by Manitoba law and are done by a team from the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, CBC noted.
LifeSiteNews made several requests to St. Boniface for confirmation and received an email from Helene Vrignon, director of corporate affairs and communications. “Our comments about htis issue are now in the public domain, and we will not be commenting further,” she said.
CMCH's Lussier did not return calls from LifeSiteNews.
LifeSiteNews contacted Archbishop Albert LeGatt for comment but did not hear back by deadline.
St. Boniface clearly has been under a relentless pro-euthanasia campaign from within and from the outside, with sources inside the hospital leaking information to sympathizers and the media.
As Dying with Dignity Canada’s Shanaaz Gokool told supporters in a June 22 email:
Last week, a source leaked documents to us showing that the board at St. Boniface Hospital had voted in May to allow MAID. The records also revealed that the Catholic Health Corp. of Manitoba responded by stacking the hospital’s board with new appointees and demanding a revote.
We shared the documents with the Winnipeg Free Press, the CBC and CTV, ensuring that journalists had what they needed to expose the harms of allowing publicly funded hospitals to put dogma ahead of Canadians’ rights.
And a March 1 internal memo was leaked to the CBC revealing that a patient died shortly after a transfer for a second euthanasia assessment, which allegedly traumatized hospital staff involved, the CBC reported.
The patient had received an “initial assessment at the hospital,” it noted.
St. Boniface Hospital president Dr. Bruce Roe told CBC News that this incident took place when the hospital had not yet finalized its euthanasia policy.
But the patient “died from his medical condition, not from being being shipped for an assessment,” Schadenberg pointed out. “They had no need to kill this guy by lethal injection. He was dying anyway.”
Pro-euthanasia doctors have also publicly denounced St. Boniface.
Board chair Murray Kilfoyle stepped down June 12 when the earlier policy allowing euthanasia in some cases was reversed.
“I see no way to reconcile my patient-centric MAID views with those of CHCM,” Kilfoyle wrote in a resignation letter.
“I will be unable to support a policy I believe allows for the undeniable reality of transfers of care that harm patients.”
And Dr. Marcus Blouw, outgoing director of medical staff, alleged in an April 2016 letter that a majority of hospital staff supported killing patients onsite but were afraid to speak out, according to the CBC.
Blouw breached a confidentiality pledge after the June 12 board meeting to publicly criticize St. Boniface for a “double standard” in allowing assessments for euthanasia onsite but not the killing of patients, the Winnipeg Free Press reported.
Schadenberg says Blouw is “right on that one,” if the hospital now actually allows assessments for euthanasia, because that is “directly and intentionally cooperating with the act.”
If that is the case, he said, St. Boniface should have from the outset “made it clear that we just do not participate in any way, shape or form with euthanasia.”
Meanwhile, Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative government has backed St. Boniface in its euthanasia ban.
The government has “committed to facilities and medical professionals that it will not impose the practice of MAID [medical assistance in dying] upon them,” Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen confirmed in a June 12 statement.
However, the Supreme Court has ruled “every jurisdiction in Canada is required to make accommodations to make sure the public has access” to euthanasia, he stated.
Therefore, “facilities that do not perform MAID are required to have protocols and procedures in place to transfer patients, in a manner that is safe and dignified, to an alternate facility,” Goertzen said.
In February 2015, the Supreme Court struck down the Criminal Code ban on euthanasia and assisted suicide as unconstitutional, a decision that Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government codified in law in June 2016 with Bill C-14.
Bill C-14 legislates Canadians can be killed by lethal injection or be helped to commit suicide on request if they are assessed to have a “grievous and irremediable” medical condition.
While the media report that it as CHCM “stacking” the board to get the desired result, Goertzen said the Catholic organization has the right to administer the hospital as it sees fit.
“The process might not be what anybody would consider to be ideal, but they have followed their rules,” he told the Winnipeg Sun.