Warren McArthur:

British Columbia Catholic hospitals have and continue to stand in opposition to the tides of euthanasia in Canada as bastions of palliative care and reverence for the sanctity of life. As euthanasia becomes more accepted legally and in practice, it is in conscientiously objecting institutions that many patients trust. The government gives a great deal of funding to Catholic hospitals so that they can continue operating with a high quality of care but have allowed them to maintain autonomy — allowed them to comply with their religious values. This right is now being called into question.

LifeSiteNews reported that after a patient was transferred from a Catholic institution to another medical facility which offers Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), Dying With Dignity, a pro-euthanasia lobby group, has been pressing the B.C. government to mandate that Catholic hospitals offer euthanasia. St Paul’s Hospital — the hospital from which the patient in question was transferred — is to receive two billion dollars from the government through 2027 to provide medical services, but Dying With Dignity argues that this money should be withheld until the Catholic institution begins offering euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. This pro-euthanasia organization isn’t only interested in St. Paul’s and is pushing for the NDP government to mandate that all Catholic hospitals offer MAiD.

Alex Shadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition responded to the story on his blog, saying that “this is not the first time that Dying With Dignity (a registered charity) has lobbied the B.C. government to force Catholic hospitals to kill their patients by euthanasia.” He mentioned “in February 2021 the Delta Hospice Society was defunded by the BC Ministry of Health because they refused to kill their patients.”

While these hospitals and supporters of their position would argue that it is their right to refuse to offer medical services which are contrary to their religious beliefs, Dying With Dignity has its own argument. On their website, under a section addressing the transfer of patients in B.C., they say that “seeking access to MAID is an individual decision and a constitutional right that should be respected at all publicly funded health care facilities.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes clear that the hospital cannot be complicit in medicalized murder, stating in paragraph 2277 that “Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons … It is morally unacceptable.”