Dutch doctors oppose plans for ‘completed life’ euthanasia


Michael Cook

Although Dutch government proposals for euthanasia for “completed life” – that is, for elderly people who want to step off the treadmill gracefully – have received a lot of publicity, they have not been legislated.

Now the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG), the peak body for doctors in the Netherlands, has announced its opposition.” Such a radical proposal is not desirable for practical reasons and for reasons of principle,” says the KNMG.

Adding another law to govern the practice of euthanasia will lead to great complications, it contends. “The current Act is meticulous, transparent, verifiable, safe for patients and physicians, and has broad support.”

The government’s proposal could harm the elderly. “Vulnerability due to age, when people experience many medical and non-medical problems, can cause unbearable and hopeless suffering within the meaning of the legislation.” It could end up stigmatising the elderly.

The KNMG points out that the term “completed life” has an attractive ring to it for the public. “In practice, however, it will mainly be vulnerable people who experience loneliness and loss of meaning. These are complex and tragic problems for which no simple solutions.”

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Dying with dignity can’t be forced on doctors — or hospitals

Coercion is a solution in search of a problem, a dead end when we have pathways to get people where they want to go.

Toronto Star

Martin Regg Cohn

Unsurprisingly in a matter of life and death, a war of words is at play: Medical suicide versus death with dignity.

Lowering the temperature, the authorities have settled on a more antiseptic acronym: MAID, or Medical Assistance in Dying.

There is no anodyne phrase, no easy right or wrong when both sides believe themselves to be on side of the angels. Or view the other side as being angels of death. . . [Full text]


Physicians, Not Conscripts — Conscientious Objection in Health Care

Ronit Y. Stahl, Ezekiel J. Emanuel

Conscientious objection laws give health care professionals the legal right to refuse, on the basis of personal beliefs, to perform certain procedures or care for particular patients. The authors argue that professional societies should declare conscientious objection unethical.



Stahl RY, Emanuel EJ.  Physicians, Not Conscripts – Conscientious Objection in Health Care. N Engl J Med 2017; 376:1380-1385 April 6, 2017 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMsb1612472



Ontario’s legislators under ‘tremendous pressure’ to amend Bill-84

The Catholic Register

Michael Swan

With more than 22,000 emails and letters in their in-boxes, Ontario legislators have rarely been under as much pressure to amend a bill as they have been over conscience rights for doctors in Bill-84.

In response, Ontario Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins has promised to have a “care co-ordination service” up and running as early as May. . .

However, Hoskins and the Liberals have so far avoided saying they would override the policy of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario which requires doctors to refer for medically assisted death even against their moral, religious and ethical convictions. . . [Full text]


Doctor who objects to physician-assisted suicide says role is in ‘service of the sanctity of life’

Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience wants ‘conscience protection’ in assisted death laws

CBC News

A Scarborough palliative care physician says she would like Ontario to adopt a direct-access model for physician-assisted suicide, making it widely available to patients while bypassing doctors who object to the procedure.

Dr. Natalia Novosedlik is one of a group of doctors seeking what’s called “conscience protection” in the province’s assisted dying law, meaning physicians who oppose euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide would not have to refer patients to a doctor who does not have such objections, as is the case now. . . [Full text]


Ontario must amend its assisted dying legislation to recognize conscience rights

National Newswatch

John Milloy

Canadians ask a lot of our physicians – years of education, long hours, complex cases and demanding patients (full disclosure – I am married to a doctor).

Since June of last year, we have also been asking them to help some of their patients take their own lives.

No matter how you feel about assisted dying, you have to admit that having a role in the act is a burden that few of us would ever welcome. And yet as a society we seem to forget that doctors are no different. . . [Full text]


B.C. quietly creates system to help patients access medically assisted dying

Vancouver Sun

Bethany Lindsay

While other provinces try to piece together programs coordinating care for patients who want medical help ending their lives, B.C.’s health authorities have quietly created a system that’s winning praise from advocates.

This weekend, Ontario’s health minister said he hopes to develop a system that would allow patients to bypass doctors who object to assisted death, and connect them with health-care providers who can help. A similar system has been in place across B.C. for months already, according to Sue Hughson of Dying with Dignity Canada’s Vancouver chapter.

“We’re ahead, I’m happy to say. I was reading this (news story) and I was gloating a little bit, although I don’t like to gloat,” she said. . . [Full text]


Ontario creating service to help people access medically assisted dying

Health Minister Eric Hoskins says service will be up and running as early as May

CBC News

Ontario is setting up a new service for people seeking medically assisted death that will allow them to reach out for help directly, bypassing health-care providers who object to assisted suicide on conscience grounds.

Health Minister Eric Hoskins says a “care co-ordination service” for medically assisted death will be up and running as early as May.

The service will allow patients to contact central staff who will connect them with health-care providers prepared to handle requests for a medically assisted death. . . [Full text]


New male contraceptive is safe, effective, inexpensive — and can’t find a company to sell it

National Post

Ari Altstedter

Doctors are on the cusp of launching the first new male contraceptive in more than a century. But rather than a Big Pharma lab, the breakthrough is emerging from a university startup in the heart of rural India.

Years of human trials on the injectable, sperm-zapping product are coming to an end, and researchers are preparing to submit it for regulatory approval. Results so far show it’s safe, effective and easy to use-but gaining little traction with drugmakers. That’s frustrating its inventor, who says his technique could play a crucial role in condom-averse populations. . . . [Full text]



UN Censures Italy for High Number of Doctors Who Won’t Perform Abortions


Thomas D. Williams

The Human Rights Committee of the United Nations has censured Italy for failing to provide ready access to abortion throughout the country due to a “high number of physicians” who refuse to carry out the procedure for reasons of conscience.

In its recently released report on Italy (2017), the UN Committee specifically names conscience objection as an obstacle to insuring the availability of abortions throughout the predominantly Catholic nation.

In a section devoted to “voluntary termination of pregnancy,” the Committee notes its concerns over “reported difficulties in accessing legal abortions owing to the high number of physicians who refuse to perform abortions for reasons of conscience and their manner of distribution across the country.” . . .[Full text]