Conscience should guide doctors at end of life

Canadian Medical Association Journal

Laura Eggertson

All doctors have the right to follow their conscience when deciding whether to assist dying patients physically or to provide them with the means to end their lives  –  within the bounds of legislation, delegates to the Canadian Medical Association’s annual meeting have voted.

As Canada considers changing its laws concerning assisted death, Canada’s doctors considered their stance on the second day of the Canadian Medical Association’s (CMA) 147th annual meeting in Ottawa. In the end, they voted 91% in favour of allowing individual physicians to follow their conscience in deciding whether or not to provide assistance. . . [Full Text]

Doctors vote to ‘follow their conscience’ if assisted suicide becomes legal

Toronto Sun

Jessica Hume

OTTAWA  –  In what appears to be a softening on the issue from Canada’s doctors, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) voted Tuesday to allow doctors to follow their conscience if and when assisted suicide becomes legal in Canada.

Previously, the CMA had opposed the idea of medically assisted euthanasia.

But with recent end-of-life legislation in Quebec, as well as two related bills put forward by Steven Fletcher, a Conservative MP who was paralyzed after a car accident in 1996, Canadians’ views — as well as the country’s laws — could be changing. . . [Full Text]


Canadian Medical Association softens stand on assisted suicide

Globe and Mail

André Picard

The Canadian Medical Association, which has a long-standing policy saying doctors should not participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide, is substantially softening its stance.

Delegates to the organization’s general council decided Tuesday that the CMA now “supports the right of all physicians, within the bounds of existing legislation, to follow their conscience when deciding whether to provide medical aid in dying.”

The carefully crafted position is an acknowledgment that, while assisting death is still a crime in Canada, the attitudes of Canadians, including those of physicians, are changing quickly, and so is the law.

While the group’s official policy has not changed, “it’s only a matter of time,” said Louis Francescutti, outgoing president of the CMA. Dr. Francescutti said the “conscience” resolution, which was adopted by an overwhelming 91 per cent of delegates, means that the CMA supports a doctor’s right to refuse to hasten the death of a terminally ill patient, but it will also support a doctor’s right to hasten death if the law allows.[Full text]


Canadian doctors want freedom to choose whether to help terminal patients die

CMA to revisit issue of doctor-assisted death after delegates pass motion supporting physician’s right to ‘follow their conscience’

Sharon Kirkey

Canada’s doctors say they should be free to choose whether to help terminally ill patients kill themselves if the federal ban outlawing euthanasia is overturned.

Delegates at the Canadian Medical Association‘s annual general meeting in Ottawa overwhelmingly passed a motion Tuesday supporting the “right of all physicians, within the bounds of existing legislation, to follow their conscience when deciding whether to provide medical aid in dying.”

The CMA is formally opposed to euthanasia  –  a stance its leaders indicated would now be revisited as the emotionally charged issue takes on new urgency in Canada.

The Supreme Court of Canada is set to hear a constitutional challenge of the criminal ban on doctor-assisted death in October, while Quebec has introduced Bill 52, legislation allowing doctors help end the lives of terminal patients suffering “unbearable physical or psychological pain.”

The CMA defines “medical aid in dying” as euthanasia or physician-assisted death.[Full text]