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