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

FortisBC offers 90-day bill deferrals to customers impacted by COVID-19

Customers can apply for the relief program through the utility’s website

Kootenay Boundary doctor offices open, call first

Viral transmission precautions in place

Trail residents asked to postpone parades

Trail Mayor makes Facebook plea to stop the ‘self-distancing parades’

A message to Trail Times subscribers

Thank you and we appreciate your support during this unprecedented time in history.

Last call for Trail-Warfield Citizen of the Year nods

Submissions should be forwarded by email

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

Logan Boulet Effect: Green Shirt Day calls on Canadians to become organ donors

While social distancing, the day also honours the 16 lives lost in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos Crash

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

B.C. wide burning restrictions come into effect April 16

‘Larger open burns pose an unnecessary risk and could detract from wildfire detection’

Most Read