Monday, June 19, 2017

One Year Later, the reality of Medical Assistance in Dying

By Michael Swan June 9, 2017

Ontario doctors challenge policy forcing referrals for medically assisted dying
College's rules infringe on doctors' right to object on conscientious, religious grounds, groups argue
Amanda Pfeffer · CBC News
June 15, 2017

CBC Ottawa Morning Radio Live:  June 15, 2017 with Hallie Cotnam - Interview with Dr. Sephora Tang and Dr. David Rouselle from the CPSO

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Rex Murphy's excellent advice to Justin Trudeau on his feminist foreign aid policy

Poor Fern Hill. She just couldn't bring herself to watch Rex Murphy discussing Justin Trudeau's feminist foreign aid policy.

I guess Rex just made too much sense.

We still don't know number of late-term abortions in Canada

By Patricia Maloney

Pro-abortion activist Joyce Arthur thinks that only 0.59 percent of all abortions performed in Canada for 2015 are late-term.

There is no way Arthur can know this, since very few late-term abortions are reported to CIHI. All we know for sure is, that based on the 19,039 hospital abortions for which we have a gestational age, there were 587 late-term hospital abortions in Canada in 2015. (an excel spreadsheet will be downloaded to your computer, see Table 4)

I've discussed this a few times before, links here

So let's do it again for 2015.

CIHI reported 100,104 abortions in 2015. Of these 100,104 abortions, the gestational age is only reported for 19,039 of the abortions (7,330 performed on fetuses <=8 weeks, 8,701 on fetuses 9-12 weeks, 1,585 on fetuses 13-16 weeks, 836 on fetuses 17-20 weeks, 587 on fetuses 21+ weeks). Note that these known gestational age abortions are reported only for hospital abortions--we have no gestational ages for abortions done in clinics or physician's offices. And 4,522 of these hospital abortions have an unknown gestational age.

Therefore, there were at least 81,065 (100,104 minus 19,039) abortions performed in 2015 with an unknown gestational age. This means all of those 81,065 abortions, or most of them, or some of them, or none of them, could be late term abortions--we do not know. And we don’t know these gestational ages because most abortion providers don't report the gestational ages of abortions. 

In other words of the 100,104 known abortions we only know gestational ages for 19,039 of them.

If all of the unknown gestational age abortions were in fact late term abortions, then the percentage  of late term abortions could be as high as 81%. But we don't know do we? To say that only .59% of abortions are late-term is unknowable. It is also misleading.

Even if the rate of late-term abortions was linear, then that would mean that there could be 3,103 late-term abortions and not 587 (587 is 3.1% of 19,039, therefore 3.1% of 100,104 is 3,103).

And as Suzanne Fortin wisely noted regarding the possible rarity of late term abortions:
"So what if they're [late-term abortions] rare? They HAPPEN! Murder is rare too. One is too many."

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Ottawa Citizen - Freedom of expression wins

Judge strikes down law that blocks access to information about abortion in Ontario

Published on: June 12, 2017 | Last Updated: June 12, 2017 7:05 PM EDT

An Ontario judge has thrown out a law that prevents the public from knowing how many abortions are being performed in the province, saying it impedes meaningful discussion and criticism about abortion services “which is a matter of public interest.”

The Association for Reformed Political Action, which challenged the law, called the ruling by Justice Marc Labrosse of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice a “huge victory” for freedom of expression.

“This decision strengthens democracy,” said André Schutten, ARPA Canada’s director of law and policy. “The question at the heart of this case was whether governments can avoid accountability on a particular matter simply by excluding information related to that matter from the access to information law. We are very pleased that the court has struck this censorship provision down.”

In his ruling, Labrosse said the law, which excludes information about abortion services from Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy, is too broad and was passed with virtually no debate. He ruled that the section in question is unconstitutional.

The province has 12 months to put remedial legislation in place before the current law becomes invalid.

Labrosse said Ontario relied on concerns of the Ontario Hospital Association that disclosing information about abortions could put the safety and security of patients, hospitals and staff at risk. But the law also excludes general statistical information on abortion, which was once available.

“The evidence in these proceedings leads me to conclude that in order to have a meaningful public debate, the available information to allow for a meaningful public debate certainly needs to go beyond some of the basic statistical information offered by Ontario … the information provided to date is clearly insufficient.”

Schutten said the motivation of his organization — which opposes abortion — was to “make sure we can comment and lobby with accurate numbers. We have never been interested in patient or doctor identifiers or individual names. All we are looking for is statistical general information.”
The ruling could have implications beyond abortion.

Ontario passed similar, although less broad, legislation preventing information from being made public about which health institutions are providing medically assisted death.

Dying with Dignity says such information is crucial to an informed public debate about access to and availability of medically assisted death.

Dying With Dignity Canada CEO Shanaaz Gokool said she sees similarities between the ruling on abortion statistics and her organization’s objection to restrictions on access to information about medical assistance in death.

Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Brian Beamish argued that banning access to information about where assisted death was being performed “hinders transparency, accountability and meaningful public debate,” and is not based on any evidence of public harm.
Beamish also intervened in the court ruling about records related to abortion services.

Gokool said her organization has asked the ministry whether the ruling on access to abortion information changes anything when it comes to limits on access to information about assisted death.
“The decision seems to say that withholding information from Ontarians about health care services limits the ability to have full public and social policy discussions.

“The province has to take another look at what they have passed. To do otherwise would be problematic.”

ARPA, which opposes assisted death, is also interested in information about the provision of services in the province, said Schutten.

“This is the interesting thing. Our organization has grave concerns about vulnerable people. But in this case we would agree with Dying With Dignity. We want to be able to know how many people are being killed and by what means.

“We can handle the information … and a good, robust debate.”

Monday, June 12, 2017

A doctor speaks out about conscience rights

By An Ontario Doctor

I received a copy of this letter from a doctor. The doctor is writing about health care workers' conscience rights.

To my Member of Provincial Parliament of the Liberal Party,

I am deeply disappointed by the Liberal Party's willful disregard of the conscience rights of health care professionals when they voted in unison to defeat Bill 129 (An Act to amend the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991).

I realize now the utter powerlessness that minority citizens, like myself, have in the face of governments who have differing ideals.  I depended upon my elected member of parliament to speak for me, to be my voice and my vote on the one issue over which I have agonized for the past two years, an issue that has affected not only my freedom in how I practice my craft, but also the well being of countless patients (among whom you and I will be counted one day) who will be affected by the ramifications of this shift in health care policy.  I cannot help but to feel let down by both federal and provincial governments that have decided to play a political game based on faulty arguments which you and I both know are untrue.  For example, the argument of the patient who is so isolated and helpless that they cannot telephone to self-refer for MAID, is a fictitious patient that does not exist - but if on the rare occasion that such a patient actually did exist, then helping them to get on a pathway to be euthanized is perhaps the wrong immediate focus before other supports have been put into place first!

Which is why I don't understand the argument so often used by the Liberal party to discount conscience rights -  that upholding conscience rights would somehow limit access to service.  This argument is false, as has been shown in other jurisdictions that have allowed euthanasia and assisted suicide while still respecting conscience rights.  However, if the belief is that upholding conscience rights does in fact limit access to service, then this stated belief is incoherent with other statements made that conscience rights is already protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Preamble of C-14.  If conscience rights are, as stated, already protected, then what would be the harm of upholding these rights in legislation?  It is precisely because these rights are NOT sufficiently protected in light of the Carter decision that there is a need for explicit legislative protection, and which the Federal Government expected provinces to enact provincially.  Instead, the Ontario government has shirked its responsibility of protecting fundamental freedoms that are being eroded with seemingly no consequence to regulating colleges keen to impose policies that violate human rights due to their own faulty understanding of what it means to respect conscience rights.

Not enacting laws that protect freedom of conscience is analogous to saying, at the Federal level, that because everyone has a Charter Right to Life, there is no need for a law prohibiting murder because a person's right to life is already protected under the Charter.  Charter rights are guiding foundational principles upon which laws are created and by which they must abide.  Nowhere has there been any evidence produced that demonstrates upholding the Charter rights of Freedom of Conscience in Legislation infringes upon another person's right to life (which was the reason why physician-assisted suicide was permitted).  Furthermore, the Care Coordination System which the government has agreed to create (thank you very much) resolves the public fear of potential restrictions to access.  

A Charter of Rights and Freedoms is effective in granting rights only in so far as those words are respected in action, which, on this issue, has not been the case.

It is clear from the Liberal party's stance that it sides with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), which the Canadian Medical Association has stated holds an "impoverished" understanding of conscience, and which does not respect differences of conscience.  Just because one might believe it is okay to do something a certain way does not mean that another person believes the same.  And it is wrong to coerce another person in doing what they deeply believe to be wrong even if one may think it is for a perceived good (in this case, the death of a suffering person), no matter how hard one tries to justify this coercion by looking to other people who may have reconciled their own consciences with the objectionable act.  This is where differences in conscience plays out, and so far, the Liberal government has firmly decided it would only protect the conscience rights of some, but not all, health professionals in trying to achieve that "balance" so oft spoken.

What your party has demonstrated by word and action is that it is okay to not respect those who cannot participate in an effective referral for the death of their patient.  If this is not what you believe, and only what your party has asked you to support, then I am truly sorry that you are placed in a position in which you must contort your own words and actions so as to align yourself with what has been asked of you, without the freedom to voice what you truly believe.  And if your words and actions are indeed a true representation of what you believe and stand for, then I am saddened that you are unable to see the truth behind the harms that your beliefs and position will cause for the greater society.  One of the best, most comprehensive speeches I have heard on the subject was given by Cardinal Müller.  You may wish to read the full text here.

When the voice of reason became overshadowed by political antics on an issue that should never have become a victim of partisan politics, I came to the clear realization that if the majority government espouses values that are fundamentally different from my own, elected members of provincial parliament will only do what their Party dictates, and not, as I had previously supposed and hoped, what we elected them to be, as a voice for their constituents.  In casting my vote at the next election, I will bear this in mind, and favour a party (and not any one individual), that has demonstrated a commitment to upholding the fundamental freedoms upon which our democracy rests.

Despite my deep disappointment and sadness over a situation that remains incomprehensible to me, I just want you to know that I think of you and pray for you often, for your well-being, and for your good.  I ask that perhaps you might also do the same for me, and keep me in your prayers.

your local physician