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DELTA, British Columbia (ChurchMilitant.com) - After a heroic battle, a Canadian pro-life hospice has been forced to shutter for declining to provide "medical assistance in dying," i.e., euthanasia, to its residents.
Delta Hospice Society (DHS) in Delta, British Columbia [B.C.] announced its impending demise in a recent press release. The regional government health authority has closed down services for patients who want to die naturally. The DHS has operated for 10 years a 10-bed palliative care facility and adjacent Supportive Care Center in Delta-Ladner, B.C.
"We have been evicted by the Fraser Health Authority for declining to administer Medical Aid in Dying (MAiD) injections at the Irene Thomas Hospice," according to the press release. "Our operations will cease on Feb. 24, 2021."
In a video statement, DHS board President Angelina Ireland said, "the board of the Delta Hospice Society deeply regrets being compelled to take this action."
But "tragically," Ireland said, "we have been left no other choice due to the cancellation of our service agreement and our 35-year lease having 25 years remaining."
The DHS president added that approximately $15 million in assets have also been expropriated from the society.
Ireland was careful not to define the debate as for or against euthanasia. She explained:
This is not a debate about MAiD. A person who wants MAiD can have it at the hospital right next door to us. This is about the B.C. government destroying a sanctuary for dying patients who want the choice to stay in a palliative care facility where MAiD is not offered. They now find their rights to equal choice being revoked. They are being disenfranchised by the very system they pay for.
The Catholic Church condemns euthanasia and has a history of supporting "palliative care" that seeks to comfort the sick and the dying rather than kill them.
In 2006 Pope Benedict XVI spoke in favor of palliative care centers such as DHS. The pontiff said: "It is necessary to stress once again the need for more palliative care centers which provide integral care, offering the sick the human assistance and spiritual accompaniment they need."
The Church teaches in §2324 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "Intentional euthanasia, whatever its forms or motives, is murder. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator."
Last summer, Church Militant reported on the ongoing battle of DHS. At that time, the Society was battling a takeover from within, fighting off "a mass membership drive of thousands of euthanasia activists." The activists sought membership in order to garner a vote on whether euthanasia could be used in the hospice.
But DHS was also fighting for its survival in the courts.
In November the Society petitioned to — and was denied by — a B.C. appellate court "to protect itself from a hostile takeover via a mass membership drive." This ruling put membership and the DHS constitution "at risk of being overrun by ideologues seeking to impose medical assistance in dying (MAiD) into our hospice."
But "Nothing in Canadian law, however, requires medically assisted death to be made available everywhere, at all times, to everyone," Ireland said.
In fact, she noted, "the constitution of our private Society and our commitment to palliative care bars us from offering it. Neither the board of the DHS, nor the vast majority of our patients and members want to change that."
Founder and former DHS executive director Nancy Macey reconciled herself to the eviction in a document detailing the major events of the hospice's demise.
The Society has done all it can to have discussions with Fraser Health about the conflict with its constitution. It has done all it can to follow its service agreement and required legislation. Fraser Health has made no attempt to understand the 30-year relationship with the Society [and those it serves], which has always been recognized for its exemplary care.
Despite the conciliatory tone, Macey and Ireland implore pro-life advocates to keep alive news of what happened in Ladner.
"Journalists and the Canadian public at large are urged to recognize where that approach has led — working notice slips for dedicated palliative care employees and the destruction of a sanctuary for the dying," they said.
And despite the closure, they remain dedicated to relieving the suffering of those with life-threatening illness or who are close to death.
"The Society is dedicated to the future of palliative care and is continuing with its supportive care services such as bereavement counseling, vigils, spiritual care, volunteer coordination, education, social work and the many other ways it provides care directly to the community," they intoned.