Do you know someone who was denied medical assisted in dying?

For immediate release

If you or a family member has been refused MAiD care or information, researchers would like to talk to you

NATIONAL – Researchers from the University of Ottawa are recruiting participants for a study gathering experiences on belief-based denial of Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD). The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) is a partner in the study, along with Dying With Dignity Canada. 

Belief-based care denial refers to refusal by a healthcare professional to provide a legal, patient-requested medical service based on their personal or religious beliefs. (It is also known as “conscientious objection”.)

Care can be denied in several ways, including withholding information, delaying consultations, refusing to provide services or referrals, treating the patient or family members disrespectfully, or forcing the patient to transfer to another hospital.

There is a shortage of research on patients’ experiences of being refused care and the consequences of this refusal, specifically in Canada. But Dying With Dignity Canada has collected multiple examples from the media of patients forced to transfer from religious hospitals to secular hospitals for MAiD, which often causes immense pain and trauma to the patient and their family – on top of the illness and imminent death they are already grappling with.

While the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) allows healthcare providers to refuse healthcare or referrals on the basis of their personal beliefs, such policies appear to be in conflict with the CMA code of ethics and anti-discrimination clauses, and have been deemed morally unjustifiable by biomedical ethicists. ARCC also strongly opposes belief-based care denial.

“The refusal of legal and necessary care is a violation of patients’ right to health care and moral autonomy,” said Joyce Arthur, Executive Director of ARCC. “Doctors have a fiduciary duty to help patients, which makes care denials a contravention of medical ethics.”

“Our study should shed light on the extent of this practice in Canada, and how to mitigate the harms,” said Arthur. “We hope this knowledge will help improve access to MAiD, and make the experience less stressful for patients and families.”

Dr. Anvita Dixit, a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Ottawa, is the principal investigator of this study. She is supported by senior co-investigator, Dr. Angel Foster, Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at University of Ottawa.

The teams at University of Ottawa, ARCC, and Dying With Dignity Canada are working together to recruit subjects for the study. Individuals are eligible to participate via a confidential 90-minute online or phone audio, if they have experienced refusal or denial of medical assistance in dying in the past 8 years (after June 2016). If accepted, they will be offered a $40 gift certificate to 

People interested in participating can email for more information.


Further information:

The Refusal to Provide Health Care in Canada: A Look at “Conscientious Objection” Policies in Canadian Health Care, by Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada:

Appalling Stories, by Dying With Dignity Canada:

Media Contacts:

Joyce ArthurExecutive Director, ARCC-CDAC, Vancouverjoyce@arcc-cdac.ca604-351-0867
Anvita Dixit, PhDMITACS Postdoctoral Fellow, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of 
Angel Foster
    DPhil, MD, AM
Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of OttawaAngel.Foster@uottawa.ca613-562-5800 ext 2316
Helen LongChief Executive Officer, Dying With Dignity Canadahelen.long@dyingwithdignity.ca647-477-0831
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