Cross Country Checkup·Checkup

What safeguards need to be included in the coming law on assisted-death?

Assisting death: The Supreme Court says the law must be changed to allow some people to get assistance in ending their lives. It raises many questions such as: Will doctors be compelled to help? How do you ensure the decision is made freely? What do you think? How should the law be changed?

Assisting death: The Supreme Court of Canada says the law must be changed to allow some people to get assistance in ending their lives.

It raises many questions such as: Will doctors be compelled to help?  How do you ensure the decision is made freely? 

What do you think? How should the law be changed?


GUESTS & LINKS

TWITTER & EMAIL

DOWNLOAD MP3 (right click, choose 'Save Target/Link As')


INTRODUCTION

Ten days ago the Supreme Court handed down a ruling that surprised Canadians. Not so much because they didn't see it coming, but more because effectively it marked Canada's entry into a small list of jurisdictions that permit some form of euthanasia.

The decision says the law must change to include an option for assisted-death or assisted suicide for some Canadians ...specifically individuals who are experiencing what the Court called "enduring suffering."

Parliament has one year to change the law.  Concerns have been raised about how to set this option in law.  The details are important.  Just three such questions raised are: Will doctors be compelled to perform the procedure?  How do you ensure the patient's decision is made freely? And probably the most contentious is ...on what grounds will people be able to justify their decision to end their life? The court specified suffering, but what about disabilities, dementia, and mental illness such as severe depression?

There are other questions. We want to hear your views.

Doctors have responded in varying degrees.  While some expressed fears it would become part of their job description, others say they will soon have another option to help them alleviate the suffering of their patients who are gravely ill. 

Other groups have worries about how the consent of the patient will be handled.  They say any law with assisted suicide as an option must ensure that the ill or weak will be able to avoid the influence or pressure of others who might be less inclined to persevere with their illness.

The decision has placed new emphasis on the quality of palliative care in Canada.  Is it good enough?  Can we be confident that lack of adequate palliative care will not contribute to people making the decision to end their lives?

I'm Rex Murphy  ...on CBC Radio One ...and on Sirius XM, satellite radio channel 169 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.


GUESTS

Dr. James Downar 
Critical Care and Palliative Care Physician at the University Health Network in Toronto. Assistant Professor, Divisions of Critical Care and Palliative Care, University of Toronto. 
Twitter: @jamesdownar

Dr. Susan MacDonald
Medical Director of Palliative Care for Eastern Health, St John's, Newfoundland. President of the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians. 
Twitter: @CanadianHPCAssn

Steven Fletcher
Conservative MP for Charleswood-St. James, Manitoba
Twitter: @HonSFletcherMP

Larry Wortheson
Lawyer, deacon in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth and Executive Director of the Christian Medical and Dental Society.


LINKS

CBC.ca

Globe and Mail

National Post

Maclean's


TWITTER & EMAIL

now