The Canadian Medical Association Defines Physician Assisted Death

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The Canadian Medical Association defines physician-assisted death (PAD) as “[when] a physician knowingly and intentionally provides a person with the knowledge and/or means required to end their own lives…”. (A, p29) In Canada, suicide has been legal for years, but euthanasia and physician-assisted death have only recently been decriminalized in a court of law. However, until 2016, PAD can still be charged as “culpable homicide” under section 222 and 229 of the Criminal Code of Canada. (B,K) The specifics of the debate on physician-assisted death in Canada has, over the decades, not significantly changed, but instead Canadians’ opinions have been shifted since information from Belgium, Columbia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland,…show more content…
(B, K) However, it is first important to understand exactly what is being challenged and what PAD really means. PAD is not to be confused with withdrawal of treatment, since patients have the right to refuse life-sustaining means, such as ventilator assistance or nourishment. (A, I) On the other hand, PAD has been, up until recently, illegal, even though suicide without assistance is not. (B) Critics of PAD have expressed concern about abuse and error in assisted death, but less so about the same margins when it comes to the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment. They say that there is a clear difference between the act of ending one’s life and simply withdrawal of treatment. (K) However, it is also important to note that this does not mean that those against PAD are for preserving life at all costs, as witnessed by withdrawing care that does no more than prolong suffering. (F) Proponents argue that the act of withdrawing life-sustaining treatment is just as likely to lead to death as a physician giving a lethal dose of a substance, so why are physicians legally required to respect one choice, but not the other? (K) The end result of PAD is comparable to actions that are legally performed by physicians, such as aggressive palliative care, and withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment. (K) Court Cases For many years, Canada 's stance on the ethical issues regarding PAD has been static, and the 1993 case of
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