Pashta MaryMoon (Facebook)

Victoria woman wins court battle to keep job title of ‘death midwife’

Pashta MaryMoon has been in the business of death midwivery for 40 years

A Victoria woman will get to keep her self-described job title of “death midwife” despite best efforts for an injunction made by the College of Midwives of B.C. in a provincial court recently.

The issue between the college and Pashta MaryMoon first began in 2016, when the provincial midwives regulator wrote a letter to MaryMoon asking her to stop using the term.

MaryMoon, who said her work involves providing help to people who are dying, declined to change her self-title and continued to use it on the website Dying with Dignity Canada, as well as on her social media accounts.

In late 2018, the college took MaryMoon to B.C. Supreme Court, seeking an injunction for her to stop using the name. But Justice Neena Sharma struck down the application on Monday.

While Sharma determined that MaryMoon calling herself a midwife when she isn’t a member of the college does violate the Health Professions Act – which prevents people from using the term to reference work outside of the role of a traditional midwife – the piece of legislation itself is unconstitutional and an infringement on MaryMoon’s right to freedom of expression.

READ MORE: B.C. college of midwives seeks to ban term ‘death midwife’

The Supreme Court of Canada “has been very clear that short of physical violence, or threats of violence, any activity that conveys meaning is prima facie protected expression,” Sharma wrote in her decision published online this week.

“As soon as an action is capable of communicating anything to another person, it has meaning and is protected expression. In my view, when the respondent refers to herself as a ‘death midwife’ there can be no doubt that she is conveying meaning.”

The college, along with the Attorney-General of B.C., argued that the Health Professions Act was created to clear any confusion for British Columbians and patients of whether a provider is licensed or not. But MaryMoon countered that the definition of midwife isn’t solely for pregnancy.

Sharma agreed with the death midwife.

According to the court documents, MaryMoon was trained by one of the first death midwife in the U.S., whose website first launched in 1997. She has been providing what she calls “deathcare services” for more than 40 years, which includes helping a dying person and their family find meaning in their death by bringing about a “a peaceful, respectful and compassionate death and post-death experience.”

The college’s executive director Louise Aerts told Black Press Media that she’s concerned about the judgment and “its potential impact on public safety.”

“At this time, we are carefully reviewing the repercussions and considering our options to move forward, including legal action such as an appeal,” she said.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

City hall, RCMP getting complaints about lack of physical distancing

So far, there’s no public health order to enforce the safety measure

Northern Health ready for COVID-19 surge

Health authority confident with inventory of ventilators

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

Uplands Elementary students get chance to wave at teachers

Students haven’t seen teachers in nearly 3 weeks

‘Better days will return’: Queen Elizabeth delivers message amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Queen said crisis reminds her of her first address during World War II in 1940

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

COVID-19: Hospitals remain safe for childbirth, say Vancouver Island care providers

North Island Hospital has been asked to share its perinatal COVID-19 response plan

Canadian cadets to mark 103rd anniversary of Vimy Ridge April 9 virtually

Idea of Captain Billie Sheridan in Williams Lake, B.C. who wondered what to do in times of COVID-19

B.C. VIEWS: Pandemic shows need for adequate care home staffing

Seniors in B.C. care homes face challenging times

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

Most Read