The Supreme Court of Canada recently revisited euthanasia, and endorsed a
permissive regime that will allow doctor assisted suicide in
certain limited cases. The Court declared that the current law
prohibiting doctor assisted suicide was contrary to the Charter,
and therefore invalid. The Court gave the government one year to
draft new legislation to create the framework within which medical
professionals may provide certain patients assistance in dying. The
Court was very clear that the patient had to be mentally capable of
making such a decision, and had to be suffering from a grievous and
irremediable medical condition.
The Court was also very clear that nothing in its decision was
intended to compel a particular doctor to provide such assistance
to any of their patients. The Court recognized that the medical
community, much like the community at large, is divided on this
difficult issue. Today's Vancouver Sun article explores some reactions
of the medical profession and notes that changes will be made to
the curriculum at UBC's medical school once there is new
The SCC decision is an important one, and a move forward in the
recognition of an individual's right to control their own life,
and death. Each medical professional must find their own level of
comfort with the new permissive regime.
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