Why we need a made-in-Canada approach to assisted suicide

As Canadians weigh in on Bill C-14, some will say it has gone far enough. Others will insist it must go further

Why we need a made-in-Canada approach to assisted suicideAutonomy, it would seem, is an intoxicant. The more we have, the more we want. In tabling its draft legislation on physician-hastened death, the Federal Government has rejected several key recommendations made by the Parliamentary Committee on Medical Assistance In Dying (MAID). In the days ahead, as Canadians weigh in on Bill C-14, some will…

The puzzle of physician-hastened death

Putting the pieces together in a coherent and just fashion

The puzzle of physician-hastened deathPhysician-hastened death is a puzzle that, despite its complexity, society is required to assemble. Some of its pieces are so different it is hard to imagine how they might fit into a cohesive whole. And yet, by June 6 – the deadline set by the Supreme Court of Canada – whatever the state of assembly may…

Advanced directives for assisted-dying a dangerous step

The ‘quick and efficient’ decision of the parliamentary committee on assisted dying not in the best interest of the patient

Advanced directives for assisted-dying a dangerous stepThe moment we are born, our lives take flight; and the longer we are airborne, the greater the chance of encountering turbulence along the way. While every flight is destined to land, some landings are harder to contemplate than others. The parliamentary committee tasked with advising the federal government on how to roll out physician-hastened…

Assisted suicide roll out fraught with peril

The second of a three-part series on assisted suicide

Assisted suicide roll out fraught with perilOn June 6, the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision making physician-hastened death legal will come into effect. Canada’s health system is not nearly prepared. A parliamentary committee asked to help the government plot how that would roll out has made far-reaching recommendations, well beyond what was contemplated by the court in Carter vs. Canada. The…

Assisted suicide for those with mental illness a risky proposition

Who but those who have experienced it can appreciate the soul-crushing anguish of mental illness?

Assisted suicide for those with mental illness a risky propositionWho but those who have experienced it can appreciate the soul-crushing anguish of mental illness? Afflictions of the mind can be paralyzing and fundamentally change the way we perceive ourselves (I am worthless), anticipate the future (my prospects are hopeless), and experience the world (life is unfair and unforgiving). The combination of self-loathing, hopelessness and…

Assisted suicide raises troubling questions

For anyone wondering why physician-hastened death makes disabled people feel vulnerable, wonder no more

Assisted suicide raises troubling questionsI like Stephen Fletcher. Our brief encounters, typically in airports or the occasional public event, are always friendly and cordial. It is hard not to admire him. Despite suffering from quadriplegia, he has found the strength to serve his country as a Member of Parliament, at various times holding appointments as Minister of State (Democratic…

Why we all need to have end of life conversations

Discussing death allows us to make plans and to make our wishes known to loved ones

Why we all need to have end of life conversationsThe last time I was in Israel, I went on some home visits with a palliative care physician in the town of Sfat near the Sea of Galilee to offer some advice to his terminally-ill patients. One older Chassidic Rabbi was dealing with an advanced lung cancer, and having a difficult time accepting any kind…

Dying badly a fact of life in Canada

A lack of proper palliative care could lead to increases in requests for assisted suicides

Dying badly a fact of life in CanadaA few days after the Supreme Court of Canada overturned the prohibition against doctor-assisted suicide, I received a note from a wonderful colleague of mine saying that her closest friend’s 53 year old son had just died of spinal cancer. Two weeks before his death he had visited his general practitioner, experiencing “terrible pain.” Despite…