Royal Society of Canada Calls for Decriminalization of Euthanasia
The panel concludes:
- That there is a moral right, grounded in autonomy, for competent and informed individuals who have decided after careful consideration of the relevant facts, that their continuing life is not worth living, to non-interference with requests for assistance with suicide or voluntary euthanasia.
- That none of the grounds for denying individuals the enjoyment of their moral rights applies in the case of assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia. There are no third-party interests, self-regarding duties, or duties toward objective goods that warrant denying people the right to assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia. Prophesied undesirable social consequences are not sufficient to negate the right to choose assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia.
- That health care professionals are not duty-bound to accede to the request of competent and informed individuals who have formulated the uncoerced wish to die, but they may do so. If their religious or moral conscience prevents them from doing so, they are duty bound to refer their patients to a health care professional who will.
The panel also urges provincial governments to create policies to make clear the circumstances under which Crown prosecutors will not proceed with charges (that is, where there has been a free and informed decision to request assistance to die made by a competent individual).
- In 1995, the Special Senate Committee on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, published its final report, Of Life and Death. The report has sections on terminology, palliative care, pain control and sedation practices, withdrawal/withholding of life-saving treatment, assisted suicide and euthanasia.
- Late last year, the Library of Parliament published an update to a paper on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide in Canada
- Earlier this year, the Library of Parliament updated its research publication on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: International Experiences that looked at the debates and experiences of the US, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Australia and a number of other countries
- The Health Law Institute at Dalhousie University in Halifax provides access to material on a number of end of life topics in its Reading Room. The Withholding & Withdrawal section of the Electronic Library / Bibliography lists material on assisted suicide.
- Professor Valerie J. Vollmar of Willamette University College of Law has created the Physician-Assisted Death website. Three reports are provided every year, dealing with subject-matters such as litigation and legislation within the US; medical developments; and events taking place in other parts of the world.