Physician-Assisted Suicide

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No Legal Voids With Physician Assisted Dying Post June 6th

My friend Chuck wants to kill himself. He is hoping if Bill C-14 does not pass in the Senate by June 6th, he will be able to legally commit suicide with the help of a doctor, thereby ending his constant, debilitating and painful battle with mental illness. Chuck is part of a group of patients who, despite being included in the Supreme Court of Canada's ground-breaking decision in Carter vs. Canada, have been cut out of the Liberal's Bill C-14. Here's why.
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The Moving Pieces Behind The Case For Doctor-Assisted Death

If physician-hastened death is part of the continuum of medicine, then we must treat it as such. Like any other new treatment or clinical innovation, it demands careful evaluation and methodological rigor, including fixed eligibility criteria, detailed data collection, objective monitoring of outcomes and tracking of adverse effects; the ability to analyze cumulative data, with incremental ramping up entirely based on preceding trial outcomes. We would insist on no less stringency for anything else.
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Canada's Health Facilities Cannot Handle Physician-Assisted Death

With the advent of physician-hastened death, there has never been a more pressing moment in history demanding we get our approach to human suffering and palliative care right. Fewer than two per cent of patients will likely choose to have their lives ended; most will want to live out the length of their days in care and comfort. That should not be asking too much. One thing is for certain: the dying are too ill to speak, and the dead will never complain.
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The Risky Concept Of Mental Illness Assisted Suicide

The Parliament's Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Death, nevertheless, urged the federal government not to exclude individuals with psychiatric conditions from being considered eligible. Their reasoning comes down to this: Mental suffering is no less profound than physical suffering, so denying individuals with mental illness access to physician hastened death would be discriminatory and a violation of their Charter rights. It's an excellent point, and one worth seriously discussing.
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Physician-Assisted Dying Isn't Always A Choice For The Vulnerable

One of the consistent worries voiced throughout Canada's long national discussion of physician assisted dying is the desire to protect vulnerable people. One fear is that people with disabilities may be directly pressured or coerced into consenting to medical aid in dying. More insidiously though, vulnerable people may come to desire death due to a lack of any reasonable alternative to their suffering. For this reason, many have called for us to redouble our attention to providing access to high quality palliative care so that people are not driven toward medically assisted death by uncontrolled pain.
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Physician-Assisted Dying Isn't Always A Choice For The Vulnerable

One of the consistent worries voiced throughout Canada's long national discussion of physician assisted dying is the desire to protect vulnerable people. One fear is that people with disabilities may be directly pressured or coerced into consenting to medical aid in dying. More insidiously though, vulnerable people may come to desire death due to a lack of any reasonable alternative to their suffering. For this reason, many have called for us to redouble our attention to providing access to high quality palliative care so that people are not driven toward medically assisted death by uncontrolled pain.
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The Arguments Around Assisted Death

Allowing people to opt out of obeying the law on religious grounds can be a slippery slope. You can't oppose anti-discrimination laws because your religion tells you, or you think your religion tells you, that women are inferior, or that LGBTIQ people are sinners. You can't commit violent acts because your religion tells you, or you think your religion tells you, that infidels should be punished.
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How Would You Like To Die, Sir?

When I ask clients, friends and family how they would want to die, so far no one has chosen, "I'd like to die after lying in bed for two or three years, in a diaper, and barely aware of my surroundings." Yet isn't this scenario -- or a variant of it -- how a large percentage of us will die?
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Conservatives' Take on Assisted Dying Plays Politics With Peoples' Lives

This summer, the Conservative government quietly announced that it had struck a panel of experts to consult Canadians on their views on assisted dying -- nearly six months after the Supreme Court issued its historic ruling on assisted dying. No matter that 84 per cent of Canadians support physician assisted dying, or that the Supreme Court has unanimously ruled it is a patient right. The Conservative government has consistently opposed it.
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Assisted Suicide Is on Canada's Radar, But What About Palliative Care?

Last week's Supreme Court decision has put the issue of assisted suicide square onto the government agenda. However, it would be a real loss for Canadians if Parliament does not look at the much broader issue of how we care for Canadians suffering from incurable illnesses. Over the last year I have had the fortune to meet with front line providers of palliative care across Canada. The question that needs to be asked is how can the Federal government respond to the spirit of the Supreme Court ruling unless it also deals with this patchwork of end of life services in this country?