British Columbia

B.C. Appeal Court prevents woman from using the term 'death midwife' in her job

A woman who calls herself a "death midwife'' has been banned from using the title after a lengthy legal battle launched by the College of Midwives of British Columbia.

Pashta MaryMoon says she has provided death care for 40 years and title is connected to her self-worth

Pashta MaryMoon (far right) instructs others on a live model, how to properly wash and care for a dead body at home. The B.C. Appeal Court has overturned a lower court ruling that had granted her the right to use the term "death midwife". (Canadian Integrative Network for Death Education and Alternatives)

A woman who calls herself a "death midwife'' has been banned from using the title after a lengthy legal battle launched by the College of Midwives of British Columbia.

The B.C. Appeal Court has overturned a lower court ruling that had granted Pashta MaryMoon the right to use the term when she argued that preventing her from using it violated her charter rights.

MaryMoon claimed she had been providing "death-care services'' for more than 40 years and her work has nothing to do with delivering babies.

MaryMoon's lawyer claimed in the appeal that the ability to use the title for her vocation is connected to her self-worth, identity and dignity, which should be protected under the charter.

Injunction granted

A three-member Appeal Court panel unanimously overturned the decision and has granted an injunction preventing her from using the title, saying the issue is mostly commercial and the argument that her rights were violated was tenuous.

Writing for the panel, Justice Peter Willcock said the lower-court decision was faulty in two respects: first, it overstated the infringement of expression and second, it misunderstood the legislative rule that prompted the infringement.

"For those reasons, in my view, the chambers judge read the prohibition too widely when she found it restrained (MaryMoon's) ability to describe her work by using the word 'midwife' in any capacity,'' Willcock said in the decision released Wednesday.

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