Category Archives: Assisted Death

Physician- assisted death

A difficult topic for many, there has been heavy discussion around the topic of physician-assisted suicide before and after its legalization in the federal court on June 17th, 2016 –Quebec had made the option legal six months before Ottawa made it official across Canada. While the Canadian government has declared that physician-assisted death is now a viable option for those with terminal and debilitating illness, the actual regulation of specifics like who, why, how, and when have been left up to individual provinces to sort out, resulting in a great deal of research and debate nation-wide.

Most physicians are arguing that they reserve the right to refuse to aid a patient in their desire for doctor-assisted death and should be able to refer them to another doctor in this case, and also to law firms Harrisburg PA. Others state that if this pressure is to be put upon doctors, than they should be offered grief-counselling and other services to maintain emotional well-being. Furthermore, hospitals with religious affiliations have expressed desire to refuse patients based on the grounds that physician-assisted suicide conflicts with their beliefs; Canadian Bishops have also stated that assisted death is grounds for the refusal of Christian burial.

physician-assisted-deathDifficulties in the regulation of physician-assisted death have occurred in determining exactly who qualifies as well. For persons with a debilitating disease there is dissension over whether or not the decision lies solely with the individual or if a family member or partner can step in at some point if the person is no longer abler to state their desires for themselves. The idea of an extensive application process with a grace period has also be debated among many of the provinces –that is once a person makes an official decision to receive physician-assisted death, they are given a period of anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to think over their decision before submitting a second request. However, in this case many doctors have argued that if a person is willing to wait a few months for a decision, than they are not in enough pain to merit assisted death.

Furthermore, balancing the need to relieve their patients’ pain with the need to keep them lucid enough to give consent in their final moments has become a struggle for doctors. There have also been difficulties for critically ill patients in finding the required independent witnesses to sign the paperwork for doctor-hastened death, leading the advocacy group, Dying with Dignity Canada, to round up volunteers who can help.

Although the statistics state that 96 per cent of physician-assisted deaths that have occurred since Quebec first permitted the practise have happened in four provinces –Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec –the numbers are highly skewed as some provinces refused to supply data at all. As of yet, no one is currently tracking these issues, although Health Canada promises a report in the future, which makes it difficult to understand how well each province is adjusting to the new legislature.