Family of woman approved for government suicide in Canada sues after she died on her own because Catholic hospital would not euthanize her

“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,” according to the lawsuit.

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The family of a woman who was refused access to Canada’s euthanasia program is suing the BC government and health officials.

Gaye O’Neill has filed the lawsuit on behalf of Samantha O’Neill, who was terminally ill in a Catholic hospital that does not allow its patients access to Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID). The province's policy on MAID requires health facilities to avoid transferring patients, but faith-based organization-run facilities are exempt.

The claim was filed in the BC Supreme Court, the National Post reports.

Samantha O’Neill was dying of cervical cancer in April 2023 and opted for MAID to be administered in her St. Paul’s Hospital room in Vancouver. O'Neill was transferred from the Catholic care facility, run by Providence Health Care, to St. John's Hospice, also run by Providence, which supports the euthanasia program.

While en route to the facility, O’Neill died in a heavily sedated condition and was “writhing and moaning in pain and needed a further injection of pain relief,” according to the claim.

O’Neill’s family said that the decision was a denial of the dying woman’s rights as she was unable to bid farewell to family and loved ones. 

“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,” according to the lawsuit.

People requesting MAID in BC are usually euthanized where they are hospitalized but faith-based facilities that reject the policy can move patients to a hospital that will fulfill the requirements.

Gaye and Jim O’Neill, the mother and father of the deceased woman, said moving their daughter was “cruel,” according to the Post.

“They can’t go on hurting people,” Gaye O’Neill told the Post Monday. “They violated her choice of religion” she continued, suggesting rejection of euthanasia was a Catholic belief.

“It hurts us,” said Jim. “Fourteen months later, we keep reliving that awful day.”
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