B.C. woman awarded constitutional right to use the term 'death midwife'
The B.C. Supreme Court is seen in Vancouver, B.C., in this June 2, 2015 file image. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
VANCOUVER - A woman who describes herself as a death midwife has successfully fought a legal challenge by the College of Midwives of B.C. to use the term in her work.
The college took Pashta MaryMoon to court claiming she violated the Health Professions Act to use the term midwife.
MaryMoon argued she's been providing “death care services” for more than 40 years, that her work has nothing to do with delivering babies and stopping her from using the term would violate her charter rights.
While B.C. Supreme Court Justice Neena Sharma agreed with the college that using the term death midwife did violate the act, she also agreed with MaryMoon that ordering her to stop infringed on her freedom of expression.
Sharma dismissed the college's request to order an injunction stopping her from using the term.
She also ruled that section of the Health Professions Act infringes on freedom of expression and that it is no longer valid.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons was an intervener in the case over the use of the term, and Sharma noted in her decision published Wednesday that under the same law the college could prosecute self-described lawn doctors or tree surgeons.
“The fact that it chooses not to because of the unlikelihood they would be perceived as health professionals is relevant to this analysis. Notably, that approach contrasts with the college's indication that it would prosecute someone proclaiming themselves to be a 'divorce midwife,' ” Sharma said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 3, 2019.