With the passing of controversial Bill C-14 and the decriminalization of medical aid in dying, Canadians are trying to come to terms with the new legislation. What is it? What does it mean? Are the vulnerable protected?
Since launching our audience engagement campaign many Canadians have shared their thoughts on medical aid in dying - both for and against. One of the top criticisms we’ve seen equates the Supreme Court Carter decision and the passing of Bill C-14 with eugenics; a form of ‘social cleansing’ to weed out undesirables.
In jurisdictions around the world where MAiD is legal, statistics reveal that most patients who choose an assisted death are older, well-educated, independent and terminally ill.
The results of a 2016 survey published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that:
• More than 70% of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide cases involved individuals with cancer.
On February 6, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) made a landmark decision on Canadians' constitutional right to medical assistance in dying. In Carter v. Canada, the SCC found that the Criminal Code violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Patients must meet specific eligibility criteria to access MAiD, and Canada’s legislation on physician-assisted death has safeguards in place to protect vulnerable people and guide health care providers. To be eligible for MAiD, the patient must be mentally competent and give informed consent. The patient is also able to withdraw consent at anytime.
In order to request a physician-assisted death, in Canada, the following process is necessary:
- You must make and sign a written request or fill in and sign a form indicating your desire for PAD
- If you’re unable to write another adult can sign on your behalf
- You must be over 18, understand what MAID is, and not benefit from your death
- The written request must be signed by two independent witnesses who
- cannot benefit from your death
- cannot be an owner or operator of a healthcare facility where you live or are receiving care
- cannot be directly involved in providing you with health or personal care
- A second physician or nurse practitioner must provide a written second opinion confirming eligibility
- Both physicians must be independent (neither holds a position of power over the other, neither knowingly benefits from your death)
- You must wait 10 days between signing your request and when the service is provided
These safeguards are in place to discourage abuse and misuse of MAiD, and to protect patients and doctors. No one can legally be forced to undergo a physician-assisted death.