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Following the Government of Canada’s recent request for a six-month extension to review the issue and develop new laws governing physician-assisted suicide/voluntary euthanasia, CACL is calling on governments and health professions to give much more attention to how vulnerable patients will be identified and cared for in the new system. To see our background papers on this issue click here.
CACL shares with all Canadians the value of a health care system that promotes patient autonomy and dignity in end-of-life care. However, recent proposals and recommendations fail to recognize the growing vulnerability in Canadian society.
Safeguards: What is needed to protect vulnerable Canadians?
o Screen for any vulnerability factors (if no, proceed to authorization);
o If yes, multi-disciplinary team inquires into risks;
o If risk is too high, arrange alternative courses of action.
Risks: What are the risks of weak safeguards?
Evidence from other jurisdictions shows that some people request assisted suicide because their suffering is caused by factors other than a medical condition, such as:
If strong safeguards are not in place, the root causes of suffering could go unidentified and unaddressed. Someone whose suffering has been caused by other factors such as stigma or disability will receive assisted suicide instead of other interventions that address the root causes. Without safeguards, disability-related suffering could become a primary motivation for assisted suicide. This will worsen the stigma surrounding disability.
What the Supreme Court Said
o being induced to commit suicide in a time of weakness;
o taking their own lives; and
o abuse and error in the health care system.
Do you have a personal story to share? What about members of your family or your friends? To share your views, ideas and reflections contact firstname.lastname@example.org.