Dr. Leonie Herx: Without my conscience rights, I cannot be a good physician for my patients.

Editor’s note. This appeared on the blog of Alex Schadenberg and is reposted with permission.

Dr. Leonie Herx is the past President of the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians and chair of the division of palliative medicine at Queen’s University.

I’ve been practising palliative medicine for 12 years.

Very easily, conscience is made to be about religion when actually it’s about my professional integrity as a physician who is trained.

I have 17 years of university experience, and I have accompanied thousands of people as they journey through serious illness and often through their death and bereavement, I’ve accompanied families. And that expertise is dismissed by this forced participation in something that I’m required to do as opposed to me to be able to use my professional judgement and make a recommendation to my patient that I think is in their best interest.

So I’m no longer allowed to have that professional integrity and to be able to follow what I think as a physician is in the best interest and to recommend my expertise around how we can address their suffering. And so it’s really prevented me from being able to have trusting relationships with many of my patients.

Almost all of the patients I work with in palliative care have a reasonably foreseeable death, and so with the new law, the removal of the 10 day waiting period from time of request to receiving MAiD {Medical Assistance in Dying} means that my patients, almost all of them, if they were to express a desire to die ,could be offered MaiD, or request MaiD, and die that day.

So, in essence their worst day becomes their last day without any opportunity for healing.

So, without my conscience rights, I cannot do the job that I’ve been called to do in medicine and be a good physician for my patients.

Bill C-7 – From MAiD to MAD

Proposed changes to MAiD are pure madness.