How Will Canadian Doctors Address Recent SCC Decision on Assisted Suicide?


The Supreme Court of Canada recently revisited euthanasia, and endorsed a permissive regime that will allow doctor assisted suicide in certain limited cases.  The Court declared that the current law prohibiting doctor assisted suicide was contrary to the Charter, and therefore invalid.  The Court gave the government one year to draft new legislation to create the framework within which medical professionals may provide certain patients assistance in dying.  The Court was very clear that the patient had to be mentally capable of making such a decision, and had to be suffering from a grievous and irremediable medical condition.

The Court was also very clear that nothing in its decision was intended to compel a particular doctor to provide such assistance to any of their patients.  The Court recognized that the medical community, much like the community at large, is divided on this difficult issue.  Today’s Vancouver Sun article explores some reactions of the medical profession and notes that changes will be made to the curriculum at UBC’s medical school once there is new legislation.

The SCC decision is an important one, and a move forward in the recognition of an individual’s right to control their own life, and death.  Each medical professional must find their own level of comfort with the new permissive regime.