Politics·CBC Forum

What should the rules be around medically assisted dying?

A report tabled in Parliament Thursday offers 21 recommendations for legislation concerning medical assistance in dying. What should the rules be around medically assisted dying?

Help with dying should be widely available with few restrictions, parliamentarians say

The special parliamentary committee of MPs and senators recommends assisted dying be available with few obstacles for people 18 and over who are suffering from grievous and irremediable medical conditions. (University of Calgary)

A report tabled in Parliament today offers 21 recommendations for new legislation about medical assistance in dying.

The recommendations are intended to guide the federal government as it drafts new legislation by June.

The special parliamentary committee of MPs and senators says assisted dying should:

  • Be available with few obstacles for people 18 and over who are suffering from grievous and irremediable medical conditions.
  • Include people suffering from psychological medical conditions.
  • Be expanded after consultations to include "mature minors."
  • Allow people to make "advance requests" if they've been diagnosed with incurable conditions that are likely to cause lack of competence, such as dementia. 

The Supreme Court struck down the ban on doctor-assisted death last year and has given the government until June to come up with a new law.

What should the rules be around medical assistance in dying?

Readers let us know in our latest CBC Forum — a live, hosted discussion about topics of national interest. Here's some of what they had to say.

(Please note that user names are not necessarily the names of commenters. Some comments have been altered to correct spelling and to conform to CBC style. Click on the user name to see the full comment in the blog format.)

"I watched my father rot from the inside out slowly, being staved and pumped full of morphine over the course of two weeks. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. We treat our animals with more respect and dignity. I fully support doctor-assisted death." — taintedxxbright

"I support the idea that psychological conditions be included in the legislation. There are people who live their entire lives in unbearable depression or with untreatable complex-PTSD, and their right to end their suffering is no different than the right of those whose condition is physical." — RT

"Perhaps we require a new kind of medical specialist for this — one who's not only going to administer the injection but first lead the patient through a series of decision-making steps." — Rosie

"​I think an on-call list of doctors willing to assist suicide needs to be made by each province. Otherwise, the new legislation will be legal but provincially unobtainable by those suffering." — Shirley

"There has been a lot of research, especially [that] done by psychologist Daniel Gilbert, about how accurate we are at predicting our future feelings. Turns out, we're awful at it and often overestimate future pain/sadness. I am in support of physician-assisted suicide, but I do not think people should be able to make advanced decisions about it more than a year in advance." — dk

"I think the most important thing here is choice. While my uncle wanted an option, my dad was in ICU for nearly six months and fought like a trooper every minute — and in fact beat the odds. We had an endless string of "Dr. Good News" coming in literally every day telling us there was no hope. You have to make the decision for yourself." — Bob L

You can read the complete discussion below.

Can't see the forum? Click here.

With files from The Canadian Press