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Should we prepare for the end? New report calls for decriminalization of assisted dying in Canada
Date:11/15/2011

es with their families, and fewer than a tenth have discussed end of life care with their physicians."

The report also reveals that quality palliative care is unavailable to many Canadians and that the scope of palliative care needs to continue to expand beyond cancer. There is also confusion and inconsistency around important aspects of care for the dying quite apart from euthanasia and assisted suicide. Palliative sedation and decisions to withhold or withdraw potentially life-sustaining treatments from patients against the wishes of their families require attention. Legal and clinical uncertainties around these practices cause much needless suffering for patients and stress for families and health care practitioners.

"The issues only become more complex and contentious when confronting euthanasia and assisted suicide," said Schuklenk. "We carefully considered Canadian values, international experience in permissive regimes, and legal and ethical aspects of these practices and came to the unanimous conclusion that Canada should have a permissive yet carefully regulated and monitored system with respect to assisted death."

Autonomy, or the capacity for self-determination, was also found to be a paramount value to Canadians in the RSC report. Respect for autonomy requires respect for competent individuals' free and informed decisions with respect to how and when they die. The RSC panel argue that the concept of dignity cannot provide a sound basis for either supporting or rejecting a permissive regime with respect to voluntary euthanasia or assisted suicide.

"We discussed in considerable detail the arguments against assisted suicide. The evidence does not support claims that decriminalising voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide poses a threat to vulnerable people," concluded Schuklenk. "The evidence does not support claims that decriminalisation will lead us down a slippery slope from assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia
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Contact: Ben Norman
Scholarlynews@wiley.com
44-124-377-0375
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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