Family sues hospital for refusing to kill girl

By Around the Web

(Image by Lothar Dieterich from Pixabay)

[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by Live Action News.]

By Bridget Sielicki
Live Action News

The family of a woman who was denied assisted death at a Catholic hospital in Canada is now suing the hospital for refusing to kill their daughter.

According to CTV News, 34-year-old Sam O’Neill sought Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) in 2023 after a cervical cancer diagnosis left her in excruciating pain. O’Neill received palliative care at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, but was told that the hospital would not offer MAiD because it was a Catholic-run facility; the Catholic Church opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide. O’Neill was later transferred to a Vancouver hospice facility, where she received a MAiD death, though at that point she was sedated and did not wake to say goodbye to her family.

The lawsuit claims that because the Catholic hospital abided by its beliefs in the dignity of human life, it denied O’Neill a “dignified death.”

“Although Ms. O’Neill was ultimately provided with access to MAID, the circumstances surrounding the forced transfer and Ms. O’Neill’s access to MAID caused and exacerbated Ms. O’Neill’s egregious physical and psychological suffering, and denied her a dignified death, including the ability to say goodbye to her family and loved ones,” the lawsuit reads.

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O’Neill’s parents, Jim and Gaye O’Neill, say the lawsuit is meant to challenge religious exemption laws and to stop the forced transfer of patients from facilities that refuse to commit euthanasia.

“It’s OK to have your freedom of religion, but we have the same right, and you can’t physically harm us to make your point,” said Jim O’Neill.

Another plaintiff in the case is Dr. Jyothi Jayaraman, Sam O’Neill’s physician, who claims that her rights were violated because she chose to work at a Catholic hospital and could therefore not facilitate MAiD deaths.

“She was forced to choose between resignation or continuing her palliative care work and participating in forced transfers,” the lawsuit reads. “She chose to resign on the basis that she could not serve her patients in the professional and ethical manner that she felt it was her duty to perform.”

The idea that dying by euthanasia or assisted suicide is peaceful or dignified is a common misconception. Instead, the person can end up drowning to death while paralyzed. A study in the medical journal Anaesthesia found that one third of patients took 30 hours to die, while four percent took seven days to die. Live Action News has reported on the troubling realities of euthanasia and assisted suicide that are seldom discussed.

Alex Schadenberg, International Chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, has said that his organization is examining the case and will apply to intervene.

[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by Live Action News.]

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