Survey in Canada: Religious hospitals should not be forced to provide MAiD

Euthanasia pills Credit nito Shutterstock CNA nito/Shutterstock.

The majority of British Columbians support the right of religiously affiliated health care facilities to reject euthanasia on their premises and to transfer patients requesting medical assistance in dying (MAiD) to other institutions, according to a survey by Angus Reid Institute in collaboration with Cardus.

Fifty-eight percent of British Columbians believe that a patient requesting euthanasia in a religious hospital should be transferred elsewhere, while only 24% think the hospital should be compelled to go against its religious beliefs.

The survey comes in the wake of a recent case where a terminally ill woman in British Columbia was transferred to another facility to receive MAiD after her initial hospital, St. Paul’s Hospital, refused due to its opposition to euthanasia. MAiD advocates are now considering legal challenges to the agreement between the British Columbia provincial government and religious health organizations that allows them to opt out of providing MAiD.

Although most British Columbians supported religious hospitals’ religious rights, the 24% who say hospitals should have to provide MAiD is among the highest in the country.

Across Canada, a majority in all regions except Quebec say transferring a patient who wants MAiD should be sufficient. In Quebec, 47% believe that transferring the patient is adequate while 35% say the hospital should be mandated to provide MAiD onsite.

The research also delved into the perspective of different religious groups. Across all faiths and beliefs, the prevailing view is that patients seeking euthanasia should be moved to separate facilities.

The survey shows that a large 61% of Christians believe it should be sufficient for patients who want euthanasia to be transferred to another facility, while 56% of those from other faiths also would support transferring the patient. Even among those with no religious affiliation, most (54%) say religious hospitals should be allowed to transfer patients who want a medical death.

When it comes to individual doctors, Canadians are less supportive of conscience rights. Seven in 10 say that doctors who object to MAiD should be required to refer a patient who asks for it to another doctor who will assist them. Three in 10 disagree and believe a referral should not be forced. Sizeable majorities support mandatory referral across every geographic, religious, and age category.

This article was originally published at The B.C. Catholic on Oct. 23, 2023, and is reprinted here with permission.

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