Culture & Ethics Icon Culture & Ethics
Medicine Icon Medicine

If Patients Were Pets

If Pets Were Patients.jpg

A Canadian government panel — charged with recommending terms for the Supreme Court-imposed right to euthanasia — wants MDs (and nurses) to have lower conscience rights than veterinarians. What do I mean? If someone presents a pet to be euthanized, the veterinarian can say no if she thinks the condition of the animal does not warrant that extreme action.

But if the panel gets its way, not so with doctors. It wants all MDs required by law to either kill the legally qualified patient or — if they have a religious or other predicated conscience objection to committing homicide — to provide an “effective referral” to a colleague to perform the lethal injection.

“Effective referral” will likely mean procuring a death doctor they know will be willing to do the deed, which is the law in Victoria, Australia, around abortion. From the report:

RECOMMENDATION 10 That the Government of Canada work with the provinces and territories and their medical regulatory bodies to establish a process that respects a health care practitioner’s freedom of conscience while at the same time respecting the needs of a patient who seeks medical assistance in dying. At a minimum, the objecting practitioner must provide an effective referral for the patient.

Some objecting doctors might try to get around the effective referral requirement by claiming they didn’t find the patient legally qualified medically. But conscientiously, religiously, or morally objecting nurses would have no such wiggle room.

The panel wants nurses to be allowed to kill. But since they wouldn’t be the ones determining whether a patient was qualified legally for euthanasia, nurses would face the stark choice of administering the lethal injection when directed by a doctor, or being insubordinate and losing their livelihood. The same would no doubt apply to pharmacists who would concoct the death brew.

Not only that, but religious medical institutions will be required to permit euthanasia in their facilities if the panel has its way. This includes Catholic nursing homes if they receive government funding, which, I am told, is how Canada’s system works. Again, from the report:

RECOMMENDATION 11 That the Government of Canada work with the provinces and territories to ensure that all publicly funded health care institutions provide medical assistance in dying.

Here’s the bottom line: If the panel’s recommendations are enacted, to practice medicine, nursing, pharmacy, or run a nursing home or hospice in Canada will require participation or complicity in the killing of sick, disabled, and mentally ill patients.

There’s a word for that. Hint: It is the antithesis of liberty.

Image credit: © 135pixels / Dollar Photo Club.

Cross-posted at The Corner.

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.



__k-reviewHealth & WellnessNewsworld