Editorial: When hospitals interfere with rights

A local doctor has made national headlines for his stance on doctor-assisted death.

Dr. Jonathan Reggler is an outspoken advocate of the controversial issue. Reggler believes – and the Supreme Court of Canada agrees – that doctor-assisted death is a basic right for Canadians.

Thirteen months ago (Feb. 6, 2015) the Supreme Court of Canada ruled – unanimously – that the “sanctity of life” must also include the “passage into death” and effectively gave the government 12 months to put the ruling into law.

The government was given a four-month grace period, due to the election, but the heat is on now, and the interest in the impending legislation is more piqued here in the Comox Valley than in most communities, based on the fact that we have a hospital owned by the Catholic church.

Whether or not doctor-assisted death should be legal in Canada is an issue in itself, and one of which we can appreciate both sides of the debate.

And while we may sit on the fence in that regard, one thing we cannot accept is when the agenda of a religion comes ahead of the best interest of the patient in a publicly funded health care facility.

Privately funded? A different matter altogether. But when we, the taxpayers, are paying all the salaries/wages, and for the equipment used in a hospital, we should not be told, “I’m sorry, but your legal rights contradict the policies of our owner.”

It’s not like Comox Valley residents have a choice in the matter. There’s one hospital. And while it may be “owned” by the Catholic church, it is funded by everyone; Catholics, atheists, Jews and Muslims alike.

Meanwhile, Island Health – the publicly-funded entity which oversees the health care industry on Vancouver Island  – has said it supports the hospital’s stance.

We cannot share that stance.

Just as operations should never take place in confessionals, Catholicism – or any other religion, for that matter – should never overrule medical care in a publicly funded medical facility.

–Terry Farrell


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