CMA Medal of Honour recipient and Assistant Professor, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary and O’Brien Institute for Public Health
Juliet Guichon is a Canadian Medical Association Medal of Honour Recipient and medical bioethicist at the University of Calgary and the O’Brien Institute for Public Health. She’s a graduate of Yale University, who earned two law degrees from Oxford University and a doctoral degree of law at the University of Toronto. After teaching law at the University of Brussels, she and her family relocated to her home town of Calgary, where she has become a strong voice for ethical policy and advocate for children’s health.
To date, courts have declared three Canadians eligible for a physician-assisted death. In at least two cases, the court ordered that the medical certificate of death should misstate the truth. Instead of recording a death from "drug toxicity", the medical certificate of death will apparently state that the person died of the underlying illness: ALS in one case, and lymphoma in the other. When family members, statisticians and historians review these death certificates, the documents will reveal nothing to indicate that anything other than the natural progression of the disease processes occurred.
Coroners and medical examiners are central to monitoring PAD. As experts in accurate death reporting, they routinely engage in relevant oversight activities: they decide when a death requires further investigation, they report aggregate data concerning death and they make public matters of interest and concern regarding trends.
Almost one year ago, on February 6, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled that some Criminal Code sections were unconstitutional regarding a very small group of people who, the Court ruled, are entitled under constitutional law to a physician's help to die. On Monday, the Government of Canada went back to the Supreme Court to request a further six-month delay. The question is: Why?
When the Supreme Court of Canada strikes down legislation on the human body, it presents a challenge to government to respond. In each case, legislators responded ineffectively or did nothing. But, like it or not, the February deadline for legislation on physician-assisted dying is looming.