The nation’s largest doctors’ group is quietly preparing for possible changes in federal laws governing physician-assisted death, as support among its own members for medical aid in dying grows.
The Canadian Medical Association has consulted medical associations in jurisdictions around the world where euthanasia or assisted suicide is legal to devise possible protocols for Canada if the federal law is changed.
The powerful doctors’ lobby says it would be naïve not to prepare for “all eventualities” as the country awaits a Supreme Court of Canada ruling over whether the federal prohibition outlawing assisted suicide is unconstitutional.
“I think we’re looking at the possibility that the court will refer this back to the lawmakers,” said Dr. Jeff Blackmer, the CMA’s director of ethics.
The Supreme Court could strike down Canada’s ban on assisted suicide and give Parliament one year to craft new legislation, as it did with prostitution.
“They could suggest some framework from the bench that we might want to be in a position to comment on fairly quickly. Or there could be a long period for reflection and committee hearings that we would want to be prepared for,” Blackmer said. “We’re preparing for all eventualities, and that [a lifting of the ban] is absolutely one of them.”
If there is a change in law, Blackmer said doctors opposed to physician-assisted death “will be looking to us for protection of their conscience and their right not to participate.” . . . [Full text]