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Doctors plan workshop on handling assisted suicide requests

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Medical professionals have rights too, says doctor Jim Lane
By Agnieszka Krawczynski

Photo: Doctor Jim Lane of the Catholic Physicians' Guild.

Assisted suicide was trumpeted as a win for patient rights when it was legalized in Canada last year.

Now, faced with patient requests and other ethical quandaries, medical professionals who disagree with the practice are wondering what their rights are.

“Many B.C. physicians, nurses and pharmacists are very concerned about the potential conflict between requests for assisted suicide and protecting their right to be faithful to their conscience,” said Dr. Toni Parsons, a member of the Catholic Physicians’ Guild.

The guild is sponsoring a workshop March 29 to help doctors and others in the medical field navigate this difficult topic.

“Our health authorities are teaching doctors how to kill patients, but they are not providing workshops for those doctors who will say no,” said Dr. Jim Lane, head of the Catholic Physicians’ Guild.

Lane pointed out that while assisted suicide is legal across the country, conscience rights are also written into the policies of most doctors’ colleges.

“Our colleges in B.C. have been supportive of conscience protection,” he said.

In fact, only the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Ontario has a policy that forces doctors to make an “effective referral” to an assisted suicide they refuse to complete, said Lane.

He hopes the interactive workshop, which will include role-play scenarios and advice from experts, will help educate medical professionals on how to best listen to and treat their patients without violating their own beliefs.

“I’ve never referred a patient to a procedure I thought was not in their best interests,” said Lane. “How can I do so now?”

The workshop is geared toward medical professionals, especially those on the frontlines, but anyone can attend. “Anyone who has a conscience” is invited to join the discussion, said Lane. Many Christian groups have been invited.

Special guests will include palliative care physician Margaret Cottle and pro-life activist and author Stephanie Gray.

The free event will be held March 29, at the John Paul II Pastoral Centre at 7 p.m.

Last Updated on Monday, 13 March 2017 09:30  

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