With no law in place to govern assisted suicide, physicians and vulnerable patients face uncertainty, confusion and more opinions than facts.
“It’s a matter of weeks before people (in healthcare) are going to have to choose between their conscience and their career,” said Deacon Larry Worthen, executive director of the Christian Medical and Dental Society.
Doctors have told Worthen that some hospitals have already put in place procedures and protocols for doctor-assisted death. Some hospitals will force objecting doctors to refer for assisted suicide, even though, said Worthen, “our physicians are just unable to refer” for reasons of conscience.
Worthen and the doctors he represents want Bill C-14 passed, but they also want the Senate to add specific conscience protections for objecting doctors and health-care institutions.
“We’re pleased with what’s there, but we want to be more specific,” he said. “We want to protect facilities. We want to protect against the requirement to refer.” . . . [Full Text]
As Canada inches closer to granting doctors the power to end the lives of consenting patients, medical leaders are grappling with a new dilemma: should deaths by lethal injection be classified “death by natural causes” on death certificates?
Quebec’s College of Physicians is considering recommending doctors list the underlying terminal disease as the cause of death in cases of “medical aid in dying” on public death records – and not euthanasia.
The college says it wants to ensure life insurance is paid to families in cases of euthanasia and says the province’s assisted-death law will require any doctor who administers euthanasia to report the death to a special oversight body. That information will be kept confidential or shared with the college and/or the doctor’s hospital.
Euthanasia opponents are denouncing the proposal as an attempt to conceal the truth. It is also creating unease among some doctors who worry misstating death certificates could make it difficult to track how often assisted death is occurring once the practice becomes legal in Canada in February, and whether it is being performed legally. . . [Full Text]
The Canadian Medical Association says it is preparing for the Supreme Court of Canada going either way with its imminent decision on whether or not to legalize euthanasia. But a Vancouver member says the CMA is actually pushing assisted suicide and euthanasia despite the wishes of its membership.
In a front-page article in the National Post, the CMA’s director of ethics, Dr. Jeff Blackmer, is quoted as saying, “We’re preparing for all eventualities and that [lifting the ban] is absolutely one of them.”
According to the Post, part of the CMA’s preparation for “all eventualities” is to survey how medical professions in a half-dozen U.S. states have responded to legalization. “What has worked, what hasn’t worked and how Canada can learn from those experiences,” Blackmer told the Post. Also consulted were countries that have legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide such as the Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland.
Blackmer did not report that the CMA consulted any of the vast majority of countries or U.S. states, which still criminalize these two procedures, to see what can be learned from their experience. . .
. . . But not everyone sees the CMA’s process as an even-handed one. The CMA “is really pulling a fast one,” said Will Johnson, a family doctor who is head of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of British Columbia. “It’s run by people who want assisted suicide and euthanasia and they are purporting a big change in the views of doctors on this. If they were sincere they would hold a referendum.” [Full text]