Project Submission to the Canadian Provincial/Territorial Expert Advisory Group on Physician-Assisted Dying

Re:  Implementation of Supreme Court of Canada ruling in Carter v. Canada

I.    Introduction

I.1    The Protection of Conscience Project is a non-profit, non-denominational initiative that advocates for freedom of conscience among health care workers. It does not take a position on the acceptability of morally contested procedures. For this reason, almost half of the questions in the Written Stakeholder Submission Form are outside the scope of the Project’s interests.

I.2    The completed Written Stakeholder Submission Form is in Appendix “A” of this submission. The responses are numbered for reference purposes.

II.    Scope of this submission

II.1    The responses in the Written Stakeholder Submission Form (Appendix “A”) are supplemented, in some cases, by additional comments in Part III. A protection of conscience policy is suggested in Appendix “B.”

III.    Additional comments on numbered responses

III.1    Role of Physicians (Response 11)

III.1.1    While the Quebec euthanasia kits are to include two courses of medication in case the first does not work,1 insufficient attention has been paid to the fact that euthanasia and assisted suicide drugs do not always cause death as expected.2

III.1.2    Physicians willing to perform euthanasia as well as to assist in suicide should disclose and discuss options available in the event that a lethal injection or prescribed drug does not kill the patient.

III.1.3    Physicians willing to prescribe lethal drugs but unwilling to provide euthanasia by lethal injection should consider what they may be expected to do if a prescribed drug incapacitates but does not kill a patient.

III.1.4    The possibility of this complication provides another reason for insisting that the physician who approves assisted suicide or euthanasia should be the one to administer the lethal medication or to be present when it is ingested. Expecting other health care workers to deal with this complication is likely to increase the likelihood of conflict in what will be an already emotionally charged situation. . . . [Full Text]

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