This is a follow up to our first FAQ article. Read PART 1 here.
Q: Do individuals with dementia qualify for MAiD?
Under the new law, advance requests for dying are not permitted. This means Canadians with diagnoses of competence-eroding conditions like Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease will not be granted the right to consent while they are still of sound mind to an assisted death that would be carried out at a later time.
Q: Are individuals suffering from a severe mental illness eligible for MAiD?
Bill C-14 doesn’t explicitly ban assisted dying for individuals suffering from mental illness, but the law excludes Canadians whose sole medical condition is mental illness and who are not facing a “reasonably foreseeable" death.
Q: Do mature minors qualify for MAiD?
No, only adults 18 years or older are eligible for MAiD. However, the government has plans to initiate an independent review to study the legal, medical and ethical issues related to MAiD for mature minors by the end of 2016.
Q: Does legalization of MAiD have a negative impact on availability or quality of palliative care?
International evidence does not support the claim that legalization of assisted suicide has a negative impact on either availability or quality of palliative care post-legalization. In fact, availability and quality of palliative care are better in some countries that permit assisted suicide than in others that prohibit assisted suicide. For example, Belgium and the Netherlands rank higher than Canada for quality end-of-life care.
Q: Does legalization of MAiD put vulnerable people at heightened risk of non-voluntary or in-voluntary euthanasia?
Reliable evidence supports the conclusion that legalization of assisted suicide does not put vulnerable people at heightened risk of non-voluntary or involuntary euthanasia.
The Canadian government has committed to initiate an independent review to study advance consent and MAiD before the end of 2016, but there is no guarantee that advance consent will be introduced into law. That means individuals with conditions like dementia may never qualify for MAiD.
Q: Are doctors able to refuse a request?
Bill C-14 does not compel physicians to assist a patient in dying or to refer a patient to another medical practitioner. However, a number of provincial regulatory authorities have issued guidelines that strongly encourage medical practitioners who are unwilling to provide MAiD to refer their patients to other institutions or providers. In Ontario, for example, objecting providers must make an “effective referral” to an available, accessible physician or agency that is willing to facilitate a request for assisted dying.
Bill C-14 also does not outline whether or not hospitals, hospices and institutions can refuse MAID on their premises, but some medical regulatory authorities have asserted that institutions have the right to refuse MAiD within their walls.
Q: Where is MAiD or euthanasia legal in the world?
In addition to Canada, medical assistance in dying/suicide is legal in the following countries: Belgium, Colombia, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Switzerland, The U.S. (California, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, Washington).
Euthanasia, but not assisted dying, was legalized in Belgium in 2002. It was initially only available to adults over the age of 18. Since February 2014, it has also been open to capable minors. Belgium’s euthanasia law allows people to request euthanasia if they have unbearable psychological suffering. Advance directives are also permitted which allow for euthanasia once a person suffering from an illness has progressed to loss of consciousness.
Belgium has the world’s most progressive stance on dying with dignity, Carter V Canada gives our nation the legal framework to replicate Belgium law.
Q: Can Canadians travel to other jurisdictions and have assisted dying?
Only in Switzerland is it legal for non-residents to seek assisted dying.
If you have any other questions on medical aid in dying visit THE ISSUE for a list of resources.