A life dedicated to service...

Week 13: Assisted suicide

On Februay 6, 2015 the Canadian Supreme Court unanimously voted to overturn its ban on physician assisted suicide. Eighteen months later, on June 16, 2016, Parliament passed Bill C-26 to regulate medical assistance in dying (MAiD).  Key points * —

♥  Medical assistance in dying occurs when an authorized doctor  or nurse practitioner provides or administers medication that intentionally brings about a person’s death, at that person’s request.

♥  Medical assistance in dying provides patients, who may be experiencing intolerable suffering due to a grievous and irremediable (incurable) medical condition, the option to end their life with the assistance of a doctor or nurse practitioner.

♥  To ensure this service is provided in a safe manner, a system of safeguards has been designed to protect vulnerable people and support all people to make an informed decision. Anyone seeking such assistance should speak with their doctor, nurse practitioner or local health authority.

All this has profound implications on how we may wish to live and to die. Several people of my acquaintance — nurses working in hospice and geriatric care as well as people living with cancer — have already been touched by MAiD. 

Please take a quiet moment — and imagine a situation where you might request medical assistance in ending your life? How does your heart react? What questions arise for you?

* This and more from the BC Government

About the Author
Peter lives in Victoria, BC, where he volunteers in health-care. teaches mindfulness meditation, and offers end-of-life care.
  1. Joan Reply

    Peter, thank you for opening the conversation on medically assisted dying. I view the new federal legislation as a positive step forward. However, in my mind it falls short because people anticipating long years of suffering due to neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s or dementia cannot plan in advance with a personal directive and, sadly, will not be able to give their consent when they really need the assistance.

  2. Peter Reply

    Joan, you may have heard that Julia Lamb, a 25-year old Chilliwack woman who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy (a progressive neurodegenerative disease), has filed a constitutional challenge in BC Supreme Court. Together with the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) she claims is that the bill is too restrictive and “that grievously and irremediably ill Canadians who are suffering unbearably should have the right to choose a dignified and peaceful death.” The case is destined for the Supreme Court of Canada and *may* lead to changes in the law.

    Video link to Ms. Lamb’s announcement
    BCCLA press release of June 27, 2016

  3. Joan Reply

    Thanks for that additional information, Peter. We can only hope that there will be more open legislation forthcoming.

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