Should faith-based Canadian nursing homes allow euthanasia in the pandemic?

Social distancing regulations in Canada are leading to tensions over the availability of euthanasia for nursing home patients. The Canadian Association of MAiD Assessors and Providers (CAMAP) has complained that it is impossible for some people to access euthanasia during the coronavirus pandemic because they are stuck in faith-based nursing homes.

CAMAP demands that these institutions be required to allow euthanasia on their premises when patients cannot be transferred to a more compliant venue:

A significant number of [long-term care] facilities and many acute care hospitals are faith-based and prohibit MAiD. Patients resident in these facilities have previously been transferred to other institutions that do not prohibit MAiD. When the institutions to which these faith-based facilities previously transferred patients prohibit transfer for reasons of public health these faith-based institutions should now allow MAiD provisions on-site. CAMAP believes that if necessary provincial governments should issue directives to all faith-based institutions requiring them to allow MAiD when the transfer of patients has been prohibited for reasons of public health.

As Alex Schadenberg, of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, points out, if the provincial governments do compel intransigent nursing homes to allow euthanasia during the current crisis, it is unlikely that they will return to the status quo ante after the crisis has passed.

Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge


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