Alert from a growing number of Canadian physicians
“We are being bullied to participate in Medical Assistance in Dying”
Montréal, March 9, 2020 – The Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia has received reports that unwilling physicians are being pressured and bullied to participate in Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID): euphemism for euthanasia and assisted suicide. Fearing reprisals, physicians have asked that no information that could identify them be disclosed.
The pressure has been intense for many physicians, especially amongst palliative specialists, some leaving even before this latest development. Descriptions were made of toxic practice environments and fear of discipline by medical regulators.
“The anxiety, fear, and sadness surrounding my work bled into my family life, and I ultimately felt that I could not manage practicing palliative care at this stage of my life.” (Former palliative care physician, March 2020)
In different locations across Canada over the last months to weeks there has been a change in certain hospital MAID policies. The change seems intended to provoke crisis or confrontation: to force objecting physicians to facilitate MAID, or to have to refuse — and face contrived allegations of “obstructing access.” Reports consistently focus on the MAID providers refusing to accept full responsibility for the death of the patient and forcing other physicians to share responsibility for the death. If the physician asks to withdraw from care and allow the MAID provider to take over as before, the MAID provider resists assuming the natural pattern of care.
The reports we are hearing from distressed physicians describe deliberate disruption of arrangements that were previously working satisfactorily and that had permitted patients to have access to MAID while still allowing for conscience objectors to not be involved in facilitating the patient’s death. This bullying and betrayal of collegial relationships can poison practice environments and compromise patient care. Such behavior should not be tolerated by health care administrators in Canada.
Canadian physicians having similar stories of bullying are encouraged to contact the Physicians’ Alliance by email: email@example.com.