The campaign for assisted suicide often frames it as a ‘choice. It is largely advertised in our culture as one ‘choice’ among many. If we then, adopt that language too, we suggest that it is even an ‘acceptable choice’ as long as it is one option among others. This confusion in our way of thinking has now affected medical professionals. They now face ethical questions: Will I participate in medical assistance in dying (MAiD) if asked to do so? Will I recommend MAiD to patients who might qualify? What happens to my employment if I decline to participate in MAiD when asked by my employer? Like any field, healthcare is populated with individuals who have a variety of values and  moral backgrounds. Some medical professionals are willing to provide MAiD but others object to the practice, whether morally, religiously or simply rooted in concern for the patient’s well being. There must be legal protection for medical professionals who object to participating in MAiD. MP Kelly Block introduced a private members bill (Bill C-230) which aimed to protect these rights. Sadly, this bill was defeated October 5, 2022 at the second reading. So where do we go from here? It appears conscience rights are unsupported at the federal level, House of Commons so perhaps provincial governments can create a legal framework? So far, only the province of Manitoba has enacted simple yet comprehensive legislation which protects medical professionals who refuse to participate in MAiD. As well, the Manitoba legislation prevents a regulatory body (such as any association of physicians or nurses) from requiring its members to participate in MAiD. This legislation passed in 2017 with all – party support! Manitoba has even created a template which every provincial government should copy. With growing concern among medical professionals over the expanding eligibility of MAiD, now is the time for provincial governments to act.

Please contact your MPP.