As Canada develops its assisted dying legislation, we should be careful to protect health care workers’ right to follow their conscience
“Contemplating Suicide? We Can Help!” There was a time when such an advertisement pointed to a crisis line, where someone was standing by to counsel you and offer hope in a situation of intolerable pain.
We are in a very different time, now. In a few short months, assisted suicide, its grim reality hidden behind blandly deceptive terms like “medical assistance in dying,” will be declared an acceptable option in our country, enshrined in law. As the federal government prepares legislation to implement the Supreme Court’s decision, it is crucial to consider the effects of this fundamental change in our laws.
Death comes to us all – sometimes suddenly, and sometimes slowly. Although patients benefit from medication that controls pain, they are fully justified in refusing burdensome and disproportionate treatment that serves only to prolong the inevitable process of dying. But dying is simply not the same as being killed. We are grateful for physicians and nurses and others who offer medical assistance to patients who are dying, but it is never justified for them to kill a patient. . .[Full text]