Six questions about physician-assisted death, from a conscientious objector

National Post

Ewan C. Goligher

Canadian policy makers have recently proposed to require all doctors to provide an effective referral for physician-assisted death (PAD) upon the patient’s request. Forcing doctors to knowingly send their patient to another doctor willing to cause the patient’s death will seriously compromise the moral integrity of conscientiously objecting doctors and risks undermining the quality of patient care. To understand the position of conscientiously objecting doctors, consider the following questions.

1. Should doctors provide physician-assisted death merely because it is legal?

2. Must all doctors accept the assumptions underpinning the claim that physician-assisted death is good medical care?

3. If physician-assisted death remained illegal, would doctors be legally liable for making an effective referral?

4. Does the Charter right of Freedom of Conscience apply to doctors?

5. How does respect for conscientious objection affect patient care?

6. Will respect for conscientious objection obstruct access to physician-assisted death?

(For the author’s answers, see the full text)

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