Pashta MaryMoon (Facebook)

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

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
104 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

IH is reporting the new numbers since Friday, Nov. 20

USA Today ranked the City of Rossland as it’s top Canadian ski town, and no. 2 in all of North America, while Nelson was ranked no. 10 overall. Photo: Jim Bailey.
Rossland and Nelson rank among top North American ski towns

USA Today ranked two West Kootenay communities among Top 10 Ski Towns in North America

With new Provincial Health Orders, area sports teams will suspend all travel including the Trail Smoke Eaters and Trail minor hockey rep teams and some house teams. Photo: Jim Bailey.
New COVID regs suspend junior and minor hockey rep play

All West Kootenay travelling hockey teams have been grounded until Dec. 7

(Black Press file)
Interior Health reports 31 new COVID-19 cases

In the region, health authority reports 235 total active cases

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

7-year-old Mackenzie Hodge from Penticton sent a hand-written letter to premiere John Horgan asking if she’d be able to see her elf, Ralph under the new coronavirus restrictions. (John Horgan / Twitter)
Elf on the shelf an acceptable house guest, B.C. premier tells Penticton girl

A 7-year-old from Penticton penned a letter asking if she’d be allowed to see her elf this year

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

Most Read